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Testimony from Former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch

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Friday, October 11, 2019 Washington, D.C.

The interview in the above matter was held in Room HVC-304, Capitol Visitor Center, commencing at 10:38 a.m.

Present: Schiff, Himes, Quigley, Heck, and Maloney.

Also Present: Representatives Norton, Plaskett, Raskin, Jordan, Meadows, Malinowski, Perry, and Zeldin.



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2000 K Street, N.W. 4th Floor

Washington, D.C. 20006

THE CHAIRMAN: Okay. The committee will come to order. Good morning, Ambassador, and welcome to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which along with the Foreign Affairs and Oversight, Committees, is conducting this investigation as part of the official impeachment inquiry of the House of Representatives.

Today's deposition is being conducted as part of the inquiry. On behalf of all of us today, on both sides of the table, I want to thank you for your decades of service to the Nation, and especially for so ably representing the United States as our Ambassador to Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, and Ukraine. As you know firsthand, the post-Soviet space has presented a myriad of challenges for success of American administrations. And as the successor states, the former USSR continue to grapple with the consequences of 70 years of Communism.

I've read about the curtailment of your posting in Kyiv, and I have seen the shameful attacks made on you by those who lack your character and devotion to country. While we will doubtless explore more fully the circumstances of your premature recall during this interview, I'm appalled that any administration would treat a dedicated public servant as you have been treated.

As you know, the White House and the Secretary of State have spared no effort in trying to prevent you and others from meeting with us to tell us the facts. Because of the administration's efforts to block your deposition and obstruct your inquiry, the committee had no choice but to compel your appearance today. We thank you for complying with the duly authorized congressional subpoena.

Finally, I want you to know that the Congress will not tolerate any attempt to retaliate against you or to exact retribution of any kind. We expect that you'll be treated in accordance with your rank, and offered assignments commensurate with your expertise and long service. Should that not be the case, we will hold those responsible to account.

Before I turn to committee counsel to begin the deposition, I invite Ranking Member Nunes or any member of HPSCI, or in their absence, any of my minority colleagues to make opening remarks on Mr. Nunes' behalf.

MR. JORDAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Just for the record, on October 2nd, 2019, the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, said that she would treat the President with fairness. Fairness requires certain things. Just a few minutes ago, the chairman of the Intel Committee said that this is an official impeachment inquiry.

If it's an official impeachment inquiry, we should be following precedent. Every recent impeachment has permitted minority subpoenas. The right of the minority to issue subpoenas subject to the same rules as the majority has been the standard bipartisan practice in all recent resolutions authorizing presidential impeachment inquiries. That is not the case today, has not been the case since this, quote, "official impeachment inquiry" began.

Democrats' failure to provide ranking members with equal subpoena power shows this is a partisan investigation. Second, Democrats have threatened witnesses who request agency counsel to be present for their transcribed interview and/or deposition. State Department lawyers have a right to protect executive branch interests, including national security interests. Democrats have threatened to withhold salaries of State Department officials who ask for the presence of State Department lawyers in depositions.

I've been in countless number of depositions and/or transcribed interviews, this is only the second one I’ve ever seen where agency counsel was not permitted to be in the room when a witness was deposed or asked questions, the first was last Thursday. The first witness as a part of this, quote, "official impeachment inquiry."

And, finally, fairness requires due process. The President and minority should have the right to see all evidence, both favorable and unfavorable. The President and minority should have the ability to present evidence bearing on the credibility of testifying witnesses. The President and the minority should have the ability to raise objections relating to examination of witnesses, and the admissibility of testimony and evidence. And the President and the minority should have the ability to respond to all evidence and testimony presented.

With that, I would like to yield to my colleague from the Foreign Affairs Committee, Mr. Zeldin, for a few items to put on the record as well.

MR. ZELDIN: Yesterday, Ranking Member McCaul sent a letter to Chairman Engel consistent with what Mr. Jordan was just referencing on the record, calling on the chair to honor the bipartisan Rodino Hyde precedence that governed both the Nixon and Clinton impeachment inquires, which guaranteed the President's counsel the right to participate in these proceedings, and allowed the minority to exercise coequal subpoena authority.

Moving on. The question is, what specific provision of House rules gives the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence the jurisdiction and authority to convene an investigative inquiry of a State Department diplomat regarding the conduct of U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine? That is clearly the jurisdiction of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and to date, the House has not voted to give the Intel Committee any additional authority to conduct an impeachment inquiry outside of its jurisdictional lane, which concerns intelligence-related activities.

Can you please point us to anything in the House rules that gives you this authority?

THE CHAIRMAN: We're going to move forward with the deposition rather than address the mischaracterizations of both impeachment history and inquiries and process. I would now recognize Mr. Goldman.

MR. MEADOWS: Mr. Chairman, point of order. Point of order.

THE CHAIRMAN: My colleague, we're not going to allow --

MR. MEADOWS: Well, you can't not allow -- I'm here to tell you, Mr. Schiff --

THE CHAIRMAN: We're not going to allow any dilatory --

MR. MEADOWS: -- you know the House rules allows for point of order in any --

THE CHAIRMAN: State your point of order.

MR. MEADOWS: The point of order is the rules of the House are very clear. The gentleman raised a valid point that there are no rules that would give the authority of you to actually depose this witness. And so, under what authority -- I would say you're out of order.

THE CHAIRMAN: I appreciate your opinion, but the House deposition rules say otherwise. So, Mr. Goldman, you are recognized.

MR. ZELDIN: Point of order, though, we are asking what that rule is that gives you the authority to conduct today's deposition.

MR. MEADOWS: Rule 11 doesn't outline anything.

THE CHAIRMAN: We won't allow any further dilatory motions. Mr. Goldman, you're recognized.

MR. ZELDIN: We're asking a simple question.

MR. GOLDMAN: This is the deposition of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch conducted by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, also called HPSCI, pursuant to the impeachment inquiry announced by the Speaker of the House on September 24th.

MR. GOLDMAN: Ambassador Yovanovitch, could you please state your full name and spell your last name for the record.

MR. ROBBINS: I'm sorry, before we begin the deposition. Sorry, I represent the witness. My name is Larry Robbins. The ambassador has an opening statement to make.

MR. GOLDMAN: We're going to get to that.


MR. GOLDMAN: After we lay out the ground rules here, we'll turn it over to the Ambassador.

MR. ROBBINS: Okay. It's a deal.

MR. GOLDMAN: All right. If you could go ahead and please state your full name and spell it for the record.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Marie Louise Yovanovitch. Marie, M-A-R-I-E, Louise, L-O-U-I-S-E, Yovanovitch, Y-O-V-A-N-O-V-I-T-C-H.

MR. GOLDMAN: Thank you. Along with other proceedings in furtherance of the inquiry, the deposition is part of a joint investigation led by the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in coordination with the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and the Committee on Oversight and Reform.

In the room today, I believe, are at least given the option of having two majority staff and two minority staff from both the Foreign Affairs and the Oversight Committees, as well as majority and minority staff from HPSCI. This is a staff-led deposition, but members, of course, may ask questions during the allotted time.

My name is Daniel Goldman, I'm a senior advisor and director of investigations for the HPSCI majority staff, and I'd like to thank you for coming in today for this deposition. I'd like to do some brief introductions. To my right is Nicolas Mitchell, senior investigative counsel for HPSCI. Mr. Mitchell and I will be conducting most of the interview for the majority.

And I will now let my counterparts who will be asking any questions introduce themselves.

MR. CASTOR: Good morning, Ambassador. My name is Steve Castor, I'm a staffer with the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, minority staff.

MR. BREWER: Good morning. I'm David Brewer from Oversight as well.

MR. GOLDMAN: This deposition will be conducted entirely at the unclassified level. However, the deposition is being conducted in HPSCI's secure spaces, and in the presence of staff who all have appropriate security clearances. It is the committee's expectation that neither questions asked of the witness nor answers by the witness or the witness' counsel will require discussion of any information that is currently, or at any point could be properly classified under executive order 13526.

Moreover, EO-13526 states that, quote, "in no case shall information be classified, continue to be maintained as classified, or fail to be declassified," unquote, for the purpose of concealing any violations of law or preventing embarrassment of any person or entity. If any of our questions can only be answered with classified information, Ambassador Yovanovitch, we'd ask you to inform us of that and we will adjust accordingly.

I would also just note for the record that my understanding is that Ambassador Yovanovitch's counsel also has the necessary security clearances. Is that right?

MR. ROBBINS: That is correct.

MR. GOLDMAN: All right. Today's deposition is not being taken in executive session, but because of the sensitive and confidential nature of some of the topics and materials that will be discussed, access to the transcript of the deposition will be limited to three committees in attendance. You and your attorney will have an opportunity to review the transcript as well. Per the House rules for this deposition, no members or staff may discuss the contents of this deposition outside of the three committees, including in public.

Before we begin, I'd like to briefly go over the ground rules for this deposition. We'll be following the House regulations for depositions. We have previously provided your counsel with a copy of those regulations, and we have copies here if you would like to review them at any time. The deposition will proceed as follows:

The majority will be given 1 hour to ask questions and then the minority will be given 1 hour to ask questions. Thereafter, we will alternate back and forth between majority and minority in 45-minute rounds until questioning is complete. We will take periodic breaks, but if you need a break at any time, please let us know.

Under the House deposition rules, counsel for other persons or government agencies may not attend. And we can point you to the deposition rule if anyone would like to look at it. You are allowed to have an attorney present during this deposition, and I see that you have brought three. And at this time, if counsel could state their names for the record.

MR. ROBBINS: So I'm Lawrence Robbins from the firm of Robbins Russell, representing the Ambassador. With me are Laurie Rubenstein and Rachel Li Wai Suen, also from our firm, also for the witness.

MR. GOLDMAN: There is a stenographer, or two, taking down everything that is said here in order to make a written record of the deposition. For the record to be clear, please wait until the questions are finished before you begin your answer, and we will wait until you finish your response before asking the next question. The stenographer cannot record nonverbal answers, such as shaking your head. So it is important that you answer each question with an audible verbal answer.

We ask that you give complete replies to questions based on your best recollection. If the question is unclear or you are uncertain in your response, please let us know. And if you do not know the answer to a question or cannot remember, simply say so.

You may only refuse to answer a question to preserve a privilege that is recognized by the committee. If you refuse to answer a question on the basis of privilege, staff may either proceed with the deposition or seek a ruling from Chairman Schiff on the objection during the deposition at a time of the majority staff's choosing. If the chair overrules any such objection during the deposition, you are required to answer the question. These are the House deposition rules.

Finally, you are reminded that it is unlawful to deliberately provide false information to Members of Congress or staff. It is imperative that you not only answer our questions truthfully, but that you give full and complete answers to all questions asked of you. Omissions may also be considered false statements.

Now, as this deposition is under oath, Ambassador Yovanovitch, would you please raise your right hand and stand and you'll be sworn in. Do you swear or affirm that the testimony you are about to give is the whole truth and nothing but the truth?


MR. GOLDMAN: Thank you. The record will reflect that the witness has been duly sworn, and you may be seated. Now, Ambassador Yovanovitch, I understand you have some opening remarks and now is the time to do them.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Thank you. Chairman Schiff, Mr. Jordan, and other members and staff who are here today. I really do thank you for the opportunity to start with a statement. And I'd like to introduce myself. For the last -- for the last 33 years, it's been my great honor to serve the American people as a Foreign Service Officer over six administrations, four Republican and two Democrat. I have served in seven different countries; five of them have been hardship posts, and I was appointed to serve as an ambassador three times, twice by a Republican President, once by a Democratic President.

Throughout my career, I have stayed true to the oath that Foreign Service Officers take and observe every day, that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same. Like all Foreign Service Officers with whom I have been privileged to serve, I have understood that oath as a commitment to serve on a strictly nonpartisan basis, to advance the foreign policy determined by the incumbent President, and to work at all times to strengthen our national security and promote our national interests.

I come by these beliefs honestly and through personal experience. My parents fled Communist and Nazi regimes. And having seen, firsthand, the war and poverty and displacement common to totalitarian regimes, they valued the freedom and democracy the U.S. offers, and that the United States represents. And they raised me to cherish those values as well.

Their sacrifice allowed me to attend Princeton University, where I focused my studies on the former Soviet Union. And given my upbringing and my background, it has been the honor of a lifetime to help to foster those principles as a career Foreign Service Officer. From August 2016 until May 2019, I served as the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine. Our policy, fully embraced by Democrats and Republicans alike, was to help Ukraine become a stable and independent democratic state, with a market economy integrated into Europe. Ukraine is a sovereign country whose borders are inviolate, and whose people have the right to determine their own destiny. These are the bedrock principles of our policy.

Because of Ukraine's geostrategic position bordering Russia on its east, the warm waters of the oil-rich Black Sea to its south, and four NATO allies to its west, it is critical to the security of the United States that Ukraine remain free and democratic, and that it continue to resist Russian expansionism.

Russia's purported annexation of Crimea, its invasion of Eastern Ukraine, and its de facto control over the Sea of Azov, make clear Russia's malign intentions towards Ukraine. If we allow Russia's actions to stand, we will set a precedent that the United States will regret for decades to come.

So supporting Ukraine's integration into Europe and combating Russia's efforts to destabilize Ukraine have anchored our policy since the Ukrainian people protested on the Maidan in 2014 and demanded to be a part of Europe and live according to the rule of law. That was U.S. policy when I became ambassador in August 2016, and it was reaffirmed as that policy as the policy of the current administration in early 2017.

The Revolution of Dignity and the Ukrainian people's demand to end corruption forced the new Ukrainian Government to take measures to fight the rampant corruption that long permeated that country's political and economic systems. We have long understood that strong anti-corruption efforts must form an essential part of our policy in Ukraine, and now there was a window of opportunity to do just exactly that.

And so why is that important? And why is it important to us? Put simply, anti-corruption efforts serve Ukraine's interests, but they also serve ours as well. Corrupt leaders are inherently less trustworthy, while honest and accountable Ukrainian leadership makes a U.S.-Ukraine partnership more reliable and more valuable to us. A level playing field in this strategically located country, one with a European landmass exceeded only by Russia, and with one of the largest populations in Europe, creates an environment in which U.S. business can make more easily trade, invest, and profit. Corruption is a security issue as well because corrupt officials are vulnerable to Moscow. In short, it is in our national security interest to help Ukraine transform into a country where the rule of law governs and corruption is held in check.

But change takes time, and the aspiration to instill rule of law of values has still not been fulfilled. Since 2014, Ukraine has been at war, not just with Russia, but within itself, as political and economic forces compete to determine what kind of country Ukraine will become. The same old oligarch-dominated Ukraine where corruption is not just prevalent, but frankly is the system. Or the country that Ukrainians demanded in the Revolution of Dignity. A country where rule of law is the system, corruption is tamed, and people are treated equally, and according to the law.

During the 2019 presidential elections in Ukraine, the people answered that question once again. Angered by insufficient progress in the fight against corruption, Ukrainian voters overwhelmingly voted for a man who said that ending corruption would be his number one priority. The transition, however, created fear among the political elite, setting the stage for some of the issues I expect we will be discussing today.

Understanding Ukraine's recent history, including the significant tension between those who seek to transform the country, and those who wish to continue profiting from the old ways, is, I believe, of critical importance to understanding the events you asked me here today to describe. Many of these events, and the false narratives that emerge from them, resulted from an unfortunate alliance between Ukrainians who continue to operate within a corrupt system and Americans who either did not understand that system, that corrupt system, or who may have chosen, for their own purposes, to ignore it.

It is seems obvious, but I think bears stating under the circumstances, that when dealing with officials from any country, or those claiming contacts -- or connections to officialdom, one must understand their background, their personal interest, and what they hope to get out of that particular interaction before deciding how to evaluate their description of events or acting on their information.

To be clear, Ukraine is full of people who want the very things we have always said we want for the United States, a government that acts in the interest of the people, a government of the people, by the people, for the people. The overwhelming support for President Zelensky in April's election proved that. And it was one of our most important tasks at the embassy in Kyiv to understand and act upon the difference between those who sought to serve their people and those who sought to serve only themselves.

With that background in mind, I would like to briefly address some of the specific issues raised in the press that I anticipate you may ask me about today. So just to repeat. I arrived in Ukraine on August 22, 2016, and I left Ukraine permanently on May 20, 2019. Several of the events with which you may be concerned occurred before I was even in the country before I was ambassador. Here are just a few:

The release of the so-called Black Ledger, and Mr. Manafort's subsequent resignation from the Trump campaign. The Embassy's April 2016 letter to the Prosecutor General's Office about the investigation into the Anti-Corruption Action Center or AntAC. And the departure from office of former Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin, who I have never met. These events all occurred before I arrived.

There are several events that occurred after I was recalled from Ukraine. These include President Trump's July 25th call with President Zelensky; all of the many discussions that have been in the press surrounding that phone call; and any discussion surrounding the reported delay of security assistance to Ukraine in summer 2019. So that happened after I departed.

As for the events during my tenure in Ukraine. I really want to make clear and I want to categorically state that I have never, myself or through others, directly or indirectly, ever directed, suggested, or in any other way asked, for any government or government official in Ukraine or elsewhere to refrain from investigating or prosecuting actual corruption.

As Mr. Lutsenko, the former Ukraine prosecutor general, has recently acknowledged, the notion that I created or disseminated or verbally told him a do-not-prosecute list is completely false. And that is a story that Mr. Lutsenko himself has since retracted.

Equally fictitious is the notion that I am disloyal to President Trump. I have heard the allegation in the media that I supposedly told our embassy team to ignore the President's orders since he was going to be impeached. That allegation is false. I have never said such a thing to my embassy colleagues or anyone else.

Next, the Obama administration did not ask me to help the Clinton campaign, or harm the Trump campaign, and if they had, I would never have taken any such steps. I have never met Hunter Biden, nor have I had any direct or indirect conversations with him. Of course, I have met former Vice President Biden several times over the course of our many years in government, but neither he nor the previous administration ever directly or indirectly raised the issue either of Burisma or Hunter Biden with me.

With respect to Mayor Giuliani, I have only had minimal contact with him, a total of three that I recall. None related to the events at issue. I do not know Mr. Giuliani's motives for attacking me. But individuals who have been named in the press who have contact with Mr. Giuliani may well have believed that their personal and financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine.

Finally, after being asked by the Department in early March to extend my tour, to stay on an extra year until 2020, in late April, I was then abruptly asked to come back to Washington from Ukraine on the next plane. You will understandably want to ask why my posting ended so suddenly.

I wanted to learn that, too, and I tried to find out.

I met with the Deputy Secretary of State, who informed me of the curtailment of my term. He said that the President had lost confidence in me, and no longer wished me to serve as an ambassador. He added that there had been a concerted campaign against me, and that the Department had been under pressure from the President to remove me since the summer of 2018. He also said that I had done nothing wrong, and that this was not like other situations where he had recalled ambassadors for cause. I departed Ukraine for good this past May.

Although I understand, everyone understands, that I served at the pleasure of the President, I was nevertheless incredulous that the U.S. Government chose to remove an ambassador based, as far as I can tell, on unfounded and false claims by people with clearly questionable motives. To make matters worse, all of this occurred during an especially challenging time in bilateral relations with a newly elected Ukrainian President. This was precisely the time when continuity at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine was most needed.

Before I close, I must share with you the deep disappointment and dismay I have felt as these events have unfolded. I have served this Nation honorably for more than 30 years. I have proudly promoted and served American interests as the representative of the American people and six different Presidents over the last three decades. Throughout that time, I, like my colleagues at the State Department, have always believed that we have enjoyed a sacred trust with our government.

We make a difference every day. And I know many of you have been out to embassies around the world, and you know that to be true. Whether it's a matter of war and peace, trade and investment, or simply helping an American citizen with a lost passport. We repeatedly uproot our lives, and we frequently put ourselves in harm's way to serve our Nation, and we do that willingly, because we believe in America and its special role in the world.

We also believe that in return, our government will have our backs and protect us if we come under attack from foreign interests.

That basic understanding no longer holds true. Today, we see the State Department attacked and hollowed out from within. State Department leadership with Congress needs to take action now to defend this great institution, and its thousands of loyal and effective employees. We need to rebuild diplomacy as the first resort to advance America's interest, and the front line of America's defense. I fear that not doing so will harm our Nation's interest, perhaps irreparably. That harm will come not just through the inevitable and continuing resignation and loss of many of this Nation's most loyal and talented public servants. It also will come when those diplomats who soldier on and do their best to represent our Nation, face partners abroad who question whether the ambassador really speaks for the President, and can be counted upon as a reliable partner.

The harm will come when private interests circumvent professional diplomats for their own gain, not for the public good. The harm will come when bad actors and countries beyond Ukraine see how easy it is to use fiction and innuendo to manipulate our system. In such circumstances, the only interests that are going to be served are those of our strategic adversaries like Russia, that spread chaos and attack the institutions and norms that the U.S. helped create and which we have benefited from for the last 75 years.

I am proud of my work in Ukraine. The U.S. Embassy under my leadership represented and advanced the policies of the United States Government as articulated first by the Obama administration, and then by the Trump administration. Our efforts were intended, and evidently succeeded, in thwarting corrupt interests in Ukraine who fought back by selling baseless conspiracy theories to anyone who would listen. Sadly, someone was listening, and our Nation is worse off for that.

So I want to thank you for your attention, and I welcome your questions. Thank you.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much for your testimony. Mr. Goldman.

MR. ROBBINS: Excuse me, just before we begin. Pardon me, I have a terrible cold this morning and I apologize if I'm hard to hear. Mr. Chairman, I'd just like to put the following on the record before we begin today's deposition.

As you know, the Department of State, in which the ambassador is still employed, has asserted that its lawyers should be allowed to attend this deposition so that they can assert privileges or objections the Department might wish to assert on behalf of the executive branch. As we have told both State Department lawyers and committee lawyers, it is not our place to get in the middle of that or to take sides in a dispute between the Congress and the executive branch, and we don't intend to.

Ambassador Yovanovitch has been subpoenaed to testify, and as we read the law, she is obliged to be here and testify, and she will. We have repeatedly asked the State Department's office of the legal advisor to provide us with a written statement that we could read on their behalf so that their concerns regarding what they term, quote, "executive branch confidentiality interests," end quote, could be heard by this committee. We have asked them to specify in writing particular topics with respect to which they wish us to point out their interests. And although we were told we would receive such a statement, we have not.

So that Ambassador Yovanovitch can be as diligent as possible in complying with her employer's wishes, I will do my best, during the course of this hearing, to point out questions that might elicit information that I understand to fall within the scope of their concerns. I will also tell you now that the Department told us that they don't want our appearance today to be construed as a waiver of any privileges they may hold.

I want to be clear that I am not asserting any of those privileges on the client's behalf because, of course, we don't have a right to assert those privileges at all. If they exist, they belong to the Department, and we will, of course, make those objections subject to whatever ruling the chair chooses to make in the wake of those objections.

And with that on the record, I turn this over to counsel for the majority.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Mr. Goldman.

MR. GOLDMAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for that opening statement, Ambassador Yovanovitch. I think everyone recognizes and appreciates your long service to this country.



Q  We are going to get into the circumstances surrounding your abrupt removal, but in order, I think, to fully understand that, we need to back up a little bit. And I want to focus at the outset on press reports and other indications of Rudy Giuliani's involvement in Ukraine.

When did you first become aware that Rudy Giuliani had an interest in or was communicating with anyone in Ukraine?

A  Probably around November, December timeframe of 2018.

Q  And describe those circumstances when you first learned about it.

A  Basically, it was people in the Ukrainian Government who said that Mr. Lutsenko, the former prosecutor general, was in communication with Mayor Giuliani, and that they had plans, and that they were going to, you know, do things, including to me.

Q  So you first heard about it from the Ukrainian officials?

A  That's correct.

Q  Did you understand how they were aware of this information?

A  So I can tell you what I think, you know, this is perhaps not a fact. But the impression that I received is that Mr. Lutsenko was talking rather freely about this in, you know, certain circles, and so others heard about it who wanted to let us know.

THE CHAIRMAN: Can you move the microphone a little closer.



Q  Were these Ukrainian Government officials?

A  Yes.

Q  Can you describe for us who the former Prosecutor General Lutsenko is, and give us some context as to his background and what your assessment of him is?

A  Yeah, he's a Ukrainian politician. He’s been in politics I would say, probably, the last 20 years or so, and he has held many high government positions. He's a political ally of former President Poroshenko, or at least was until the time I left, I don't know where that status is now. And he is a man who was the head of the Poroshenko faction and the Rada, which is the Ukrainian parliament, until the spring of 2016 when he was voted in to become the prosecutor general.

Q  Is he a lawyer?

A  No.

Q  So how did he become the prosecutor general?

A  Because the Rada had to take a prior vote that would allow that exception, which I believe is actually even in the constitution, either constitution or law.

Q  So he was the prosecutor general the entire time that you were in Ukraine. Is that right?

A  That's correct.

Q  And can you just describe briefly what the role of the prosecutor general is in Ukraine?

A  Yes. And because Ukraine is a country in transition, that role was in the process of becoming reformed. So the prosecutor general's office is, or position, is a very powerful one, it's a hold-over from the Soviet Union days. And that individual is in charge of both investigatory actions, like the FBI, for example, as well as the actual prosecution. So it's tremendous power.

And Mr. Lutsenko was brought in to reform that office to split the offices, investigatory and prosecutorial, and to make real reforms so that -- because the PGO, Prosecutor General's Office, was viewed as an instrument of corruption basically, to grant people favors, they could open cases, they could close cases based on money passing hands or whatever was most opportune, and it trickled down to the ordinary people's lives as well. So it was seen as a place where ironically corruption thrived and he was brought in to clean that up.

Q  Was he successful in cleaning that up?

A  No.

Q  How would you assess his character?

A  He's very smart. He can be very charming. He, I think, is an opportunist and will ally himself, sometimes simultaneously, I believe, with whatever political or economic forces he believes will suit his interests best at the time.

Q  Would you call him someone who is corrupt?

A  I have certainly heard a lot of people call him corrupt, and there are certainly a lot of stories about his actions that would indicate that.

Q  You mentioned in your opening statement that there were false statements that were spread about you. Was he one of the individuals who spread those false statements about you?

A  Yes.

Q  Now, let's go back to first learning about Rudy Giuliani's involvement. What did you understand in late 2018 to be Mr. Giuliani's interest in Ukraine?

A  I wasn't really sure, but he had clients in Ukraine, so that was one possible thing. But he also obviously is the President's personal lawyer. So I wasn't really sure what exactly was going on.

Q  Did you come to learn what his interest in Ukraine was?

A  Well, you know, I read the press and watch TV just like everybody else in this room, so yeah, I learned.

Q  Did you have any further conversations with Ukrainian Government officials about Mr. Giuliani's activities in Ukraine?

A  Yes, I did. Most of the conversations were not with me directly, people on the embassy staff, but yes, I did have other conversations.

Q  And from your staff members or your own conversations, what did you come to learn about Mr. Giuliani's interest in Ukraine?

A  That basically there had been a number of meetings between Mr. Lutsenko and Mayor Giuliani, and that they were looking -- I should say that Mr. Lutsenko was looking to hurt me in the U.S. I couldn't imagine what that was. But, you know, now I see.

Q  What do you see now?

A  Well, that I'm no longer in Ukraine.

Q  Fair enough. But describe the evolution of your understanding as to how Mr. Lutsenko was trying to hurt you in the U.S.?

A  I think, and again, I am getting this partly from conversations with people who may or may not know what really happened, as well as what has been in the media, both in Ukraine and here in the United States. So I'll tell you what I think. I can't say that --

Q  Let me just interrupt you there. Is some of your knowledge based on Mr. Giuliani’s statements himself?

A  To the press.

Q  Okay.

A  So I think that there was -- Mr. Lutsenko was not pleased that -- that we continued at the embassy to call for cleaning up the PGO, the Prosecutor General's Office, and he came into office with, you know, three goals: One was to reform the office, one was to prosecute those who killed the innocent people on the Maidan during the Revolution of Dignity, and one was to prosecute money laundering cases to get back the $40 billion-plus that the previous president and his cronies had absconded with. None of those things were done. And we thought those were great goals, and we wanted him to encourage him to continue with those goals. That did not happen.

And so, we continued to encourage him, and I don't think he really appreciated it. What he wanted from the U.S. Embassy was for us to set up meetings with the Attorney General, with the Director of the FBI, et cetera. And he would say, I have important information for them. As perhaps many of you know, there are, you know, usual processes for that kind of thing. We don't have principals meet and, you know, the foreign principal springs new information that may or may not be valid to an American cabinet member, we just don't do that.

And so what we kept on encouraging him to do was to meet with the legat, the legal attache, the FBI at the embassy. That is precisely why we have the FBI in countries overseas, to work with host country counterparts and get information, whatever that information might be, develop cases, et cetera. He didn't want to share that information. And now, I think I understand that that information was falsehoods about me.

Q  What falsehoods about you?

A  Well, for example, as I mentioned in the testimony, in the statement, the opening statement, that I gave him a do-not-prosecute list, a list of individuals that he should not touch.

Q  And did you do that?

A  No.

Q  Did you learn whether there was any additional information that he wanted to share with U.S. Government officials?

A  Well, I think, you know, it was other things along that line.

Q  One of the things that has been publicized quite significantly is information that Prosecutor General Lutsenko may have had in connection to either Paul Manafort or the 2016 election?

A  Uh-huh.

Q  Did you come to learn anything about either of those topics?

A  He didn't share anything with me.

Q  Did he share anything with any other Ukrainian officials that you then learned about it from, or learned about this from?

A  I think, yeah, I think they may have been aware that that was more broadly what he also might share with Mr. Giuliani.

Q  Well, let me ask the question this way: Other than information about you --

A  Uh-huh.

Q  -- what other information did you come to learn while you were at post about what Mr. Lutsenko wanted to share with American officials?

MR. ROBBINS: So you're asking now while she was ambassador as opposed to things she's read in the paper and media since she was recalled?


Q  Yes, I'm asking while you were there, what did you understand?

A  Yeah, it was very amorphous, because while there was sort of that gossip out there, the gossip that I was going to be recalled, and you know, people would ask me, and I'd say No, no, I'm here, I'm working. But it was very amorphous, and so at the time, I didn’t know. When it became clearer was on March 24th with the publication of The Hill interview with Mr. Lutsenko.

So that, you know, that was sort of the first kind of public, on the record, in the United States, and then over the ensuing days there was more in the U.S. media, Mr. Giuliani spoke publicly, and Donald Trump Jr. also tweeted that I should be removed.

Q  So let's separate out your removal from any of the other information.

A  Okay.

Q  Because we are going to get to your removal, and we're going to focus on that. But just to get the lay of the land here. What did you -- when you referenced The Hill, what did you come to learn from The Hill about information that Lutsenko was trying to share?

A  Well, I think, I mean, I think I've already told you. So he shared information that there was -- he raised questions -- again, this happened before I arrived, but he raised questions about U.S. Government assistance to the PGO, and whether there was a discrepancy in the funding and whether he should be investigating it, and that the embassy had assured him, again, before I arrived, that we had fully accounted for all U.S. funds, and that we were not concerned about this. So that was one line that he talked about. There was the do-not-prosecute list. There was, I mean, you know, a number of issues.

Q  Was there anything about the 2016 election or Paul Manafort?

A  I think, yeah, I think that was in The Hill article as well.

Q  And what about former Vice President Joe Biden or Burisma?

A  I think that was in the article as well.

Q  So after you learned about this in The Hill, did you have any additional conversations with people, either Americans in the embassy, or Ukrainian officials about the reports?

A  Well, in the embassy we were trying to figure out what was going on. I also, of course, was in touch with folks in Washington at the NSC, and at the State Department to try to figure out what was this, what was going on.

Q  What did you learn?

A  Not much. I mean, I think people were not sure. On the 25th, the day after The Hill article came out, the State Department had a pretty strong statement that said that Mr. Lutsenko's allegations were a fabrication, and then, you know, over the weekend, there was a lot more in the media. And, you know, the State Department was trying to figure out how to respond, I think, during that time and the following week. But I didn't get very much information.

Q  At that point, were you aware that Mr. Giuliani had met with Mr. Lutsenko previously?

A  Yeah, I think it became pretty clear.

Q  What do you mean by that?

A  Because I think it was in the media, and I think they said it.

Q  So at this point, just so we're clear. Mr. Giuliani was never an employee of the State Department, right?

A  Not to my knowledge.

Q  You said that you met with him, I think, three times. Can you describe those meetings?

A  Uh-huh.

THE CHAIRMAN: Just ask -- before we get to that, counsel. Did you know at the time or have you learned since why Mr. Lutsenko was engaged in pushing out these smears against you? Why did he want to get rid of you?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Well, again, I can tell you what I think, but I don’t know for a fact.

THE CHAIRMAN: You know, based on what you've learned from colleagues, what you've learned in the press, what is your best understanding of why Lutsenko was trying to push you out of Ukraine?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I think that he felt that I and the embassy were effective at helping Ukrainians who wanted to reform, Ukrainians who wanted to fight against corruption, and he did not -- you know, that was not in his interest. I think also that he was, I mean, it's hard to believe, I think he was personally angry with me that we weren't -- we did work with the PGO's office, but he wanted us to work with him in different ways, you know, and that we didn't have a closer relationship, and that I was not facilitating trips for him to the United States with our cabinet members, when there was, frankly, nothing to talk about because he wasn't a good partner for us.

THE CHAIRMAN: You had mentioned earlier that you were trying to make sure that Ukrainian officials used proper legal channels --


THE CHAIRMAN: -- if they had information that they wanted to share with U.S. law enforcement?


THE CHAIRMAN: Do you think that your insistence or advocacy for following the proper procedures in terms of using legal and legal channels was part of the reason why he wanted you removed?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Maybe. Maybe. I mean, he clearly wanted to work around the system where I think there's less transparency, there are more opportunities to, you know, kind of fiddle the system, shall we say.


Q  Okay. And when you say work around the system, did you come to understand that that was a role that Mr. Giuliani could play for him, for Mr. Lutsenko?

A  Well, now it certainly appears that way.

Q  But when did you come to understand that?

A  You know, now, you know, with the advantage of hindsight, you're going to think that I'm incredibly naive, but I couldn't imagine all of the things that have happened over the last 6 or 7 months, I just couldn't imagine it.

So we knew that there was something out there. We were asking ourselves, you know, what is going on? But then it became clear with The Hill interview and all the subsequent things that came out in the press.

Q  So the State Department issued a statement essentially denying what was reported in The Hill?

A  Uh-huh.

Q  Did you ever receive any pressure from anyone at the State Department to reconsider your position or in any way consider some of the advocacy of Mr. Giuliani?

A  I don't quite understand the --

Q  I'm wondering if you got any messages or suggestions or directions from the State Department that were consistent with what Mr. Giuliani was discussing and what his interests were?

A  No.

Q  You also said that, I believe, after this information came out in The Hill in late March, you had a number of conversations both with people in the embassy and people back in Washington. Who were you speaking to within the State Department about this issue?

A  Assistant Secretary -- or Acting Assistant Secretary Phil Reeker of the European Bureau, who is my boss. I spoke once with David Hale, who is the Under Secretary for Political Affairs. And at the NSC with Fiona Hill.

Q  And what was the message that you generally received from them?

A  Total support.

Q  They understood that this was a fabrication?

A  Yeah, I mean, until today, nobody has ever actually asked me the question from the U.S. Government of whether I am actually guilty of all of these things I’m supposed to have done. Nobody even asked, because I think everybody just thought it was so outrageous.

Q  Did you ever have any conversations after November, December 2018, with Ukrainian officials about Mr. Giuliani up until the time that you left in May?

A  I think perhaps in the February time period, I did where one of the senior Ukrainian officials was very concerned, and told me I really needed to watch my back.

Q  Describe that conversation.

A  Well, I mean, he basically said, and went into some detail, that there were two individuals from Florida,

Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman, who were working with Mayor Giuliani, and that they had set up the meetings for Mr. Giuliani with Mr. Lutsenko. And that they were interested in having a different ambassador at post, I guess for -- because they wanted to have business dealings in Ukraine, or additional business dealings.

I didn’t understand that because nobody at the embassy had ever met those two individuals. And, you know, one of the biggest jobs of an American ambassador of the U.S. Embassy is to promote U.S. business. So, of course, if legitimate business comes to us, you know, that’s what we do, we promote U.S. business. But, yeah, so --

Q  So did you deduce or infer or come to learn that the business interests they had were therefore not legitimate?

A  Honestly, I didn’t know. I didn’t know enough about it at the time. I thought it was exceedingly strange. And then later on in April -- at some point in April, there was an open letter, as it’s called, from somebody in the energy business, Dale Perry, who kind of put out a lot of information of meetings that individuals had had, and he also indicated that these two individuals wanted a different ambassador in place, that they had energy interests that they were interested in, according to this open letter, that they had energy interests, selling LNG to Ukraine.

Again, you know, that’s like apple pie, motherhood, obviously we would support exporting LNG to Ukraine at the U.S. embassy.

Q  Is that because in part --

MR. ROBBINS: For the benefit of the court reporter, that’s LNG, which stands for, I believe, liquefied natural gas.


Q  Can explain why you supported the export of LNG to Ukraine?

A  Well it never actually came up. But if an American business walks through the door, we usually help them.

Q  And am I correct that the importation of LNG into Ukraine would alleviate Ukrainian dependence on oil from other countries, including Russia?

A  Yeah, I mean, multiple sources of supply are always an important thing.

Q  Who was the Ukrainian -- senior Ukrainian official that you spoke to in February of Parnas and Fruman?

A  Minister Avakov, A-V-A-K-O-V.

Q  And just for the record, what is he the minister of?

A  He was then and he is still now in the new administration, Minister of Interior.

Q  Had he spoken with either Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Parnas, or Mr. Fruman directly, to your knowledge?

A  He told me that Mr. Giuliani was trying to reach out to him, and had actually reached him when Mr. Avakov was in the United States in either late January or early February, and they had spoken briefly on the phone, but that he didn’t actually want to meet with Mayor Giuliani because of his concerns about what they were doing.

Q  What were his concerns as expressed to you?

A  He thought it was -- so he thought it was very dangerous. That Ukraine, since its independence, has had bipartisan support from both Democrats and Republicans all these years, and that to start kind of getting into U.S. politics, into U.S. domestic politics, was a dangerous place for Ukraine to be.

Q  Why did he think that he would be getting into U.S. domestic politics by speaking with Mr. Giuliani?

A  Well, because -- well, he told me that, but because of what you had mentioned before, the issue of the Black Ledger. Mr. Manafort’s resignation from the Trump campaign as a result. And looking into that and how did all of that come about; the issue of whether, you know, it was Russia collusion or whether it was really Ukraine collusion, and, you know, looking forward to the 2020 election campaign, and whether this would somehow hurt former Vice President Biden. I think he felt that that was just very dangerous terrain for another country to be in.

[11:39 a.m.]


Q  So your understanding in February and your meeting with Minister Avakov was that he was aware at that time of Mr. Giuliani’s interests in those topics?

A  Yes.

Q  Did you have an understanding as to whether other Ukrainian Government officials were also aware of Mr. Giuliani’s interest in those specific topics?

A  I -- I got the impression that it was relatively openly discussed at the very, very most senior levels, but nobody else was sharing this with me at that time.

Q  And so, was it your understanding that the Minister Avakov or other senior Ukrainian officials were aware of Mr. Giuliani’s connection to President Trump?

A  Yes, everybody knew that.

Q  What did they know?

A  That he was the President’s personal lawyer.

Q  Was it your understanding that they believed that Rudy Giuliani spoke on behalf of, or for the President?

A  I think -- I think they didn’t know. I think they hoped that he did, and --

Q  Hoped that he did or didn’t?

A  Hoped -- well, the individuals who were meeting with Mr. Giuliani certainly hoped that Mr. Giuliani was speaking on behalf of the President.

Q  Why did they hope that?

A  Because I think that they were hoping that -- so in the case of Mr. Lutsenko, I think he was hoping that Mr. Giuliani would open doors for him in Washington. I think that he was also hoping in the early period -- you need to remember that this was during presidential elections in Ukraine. And President Poroshenko, the polling numbers were not good for him.

And so I think there was always a hope that President Trump would endorse President Poroshenko. And so this is something that President Poroshenko wanted. And I think Lutsenko -- Mr. Lutsenko was hoping that maybe, as a result of providing information that is of interest to Mr. Giuliani that maybe there could be an endorsement.

Q  So in addition to Mr. Lutsenko, were the other Ukrainian officials that you spoke to, such as Minister Avakov, also aware of this connection?

A  Which connection?

Q  Sorry, between Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Trump.

A  Yes.

Q  And did they under -- I guess I’m trying to understand why it was of concern to the more anticorrupt or democratic Ukrainian officials about Mr. Giuliani’s activities there, and what they perceived Mr. Giuliani to be representing.

A  Well, I think, first of all, they weren’t entirely sure, right? And they -- but I think that what they hoped is that they could -- you know, that they would get something out of the relationship as well.

Am I not understanding the question?

THE CHAIRMAN: Let me ask one clarification. You described the conversation you had with Minister --


THE CHAIRMAN: -- Avakov, and the minister raising concerns about how the actions of these two individuals or Mr. Giuliani might pull Ukraine into U.S. politics. And you mentioned the Manafort ledger. You mentioned the issue of Ukraine collusion versus Russian collusion.

Did the issue also come up in that conversation or others about the Giuliani and his associates’ interest in the Bidens and Burisma?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yeah. I mean, looking backwards to what happened in the past, with a view to finding things that could be possibly damaging to a Presidential run.




Q  That was a yes, just for the record?

A  Yes.

Q  Thank you.

You mentioned this Minister Avakov, who still is the Interior Minister. Are you aware of whether he took a trip to the United States in or about April of this year?

A  I’m not aware of that. It doesn’t mean he didn’t, but I’m not aware.

Q  As the ambassador, how involved were you in organizing any government-led trips for any Ukrainians to go to the United States?

A  So it really depends. I mean, Ukrainians are here probably in many of your offices every day of the week. And sometimes, the embassy is facilitating that, the embassy in Kyiv is facilitating that, and sometimes people are making independent trips and so forth.

You know, when it’s higher level, for Ministers in this example, you know, often people have private visits to the United States, like Mr. Lutsenko did when he met with Mr. Giuliani in January. Mr. Avakov came to the United States and was promoting a book once, for example. And we didn’t -- obviously, that is not U.S. Government business, so we didn’t, you know, facilitate all of that. But when he was going officially and meeting with counterparts, we would definitely facilitate with that.

Q  After your conversation with Mr. Avakov in February, did you report back to the State Department what he said?

A  Yes.

Q  And what was the feedback that you got from your superiors at the State Department?

A  Well, you know, everybody is sort of shocked. We have a long relationship with Mr. Avakov, and the things he has told us are mostly credible. You know, we kind of tried to find out more about that and what was going on, but, you know, not with any results.

Q  Was there concern that Mr. Giuliani was actively involved at the highest levels of the Ukrainian Government at this point?

MR. ROBBINS: Sorry, concern by whom?


Q  Within the State Department.

A  Yes, but, you know, I mean, we now have lots more information than we did at the time. And so, you know, we were trying to put our arms around it. We weren’t quite sure what was going on.

Q  Was Mr. Giuliani representing the State Department when he was having these conversations with Ukrainians?

A  No, no.

Q  And after this meeting with Minister Avakov, who did you speak to at the State Department?

A  I don’t really recall, but it would either have been Phil Reeker, the Acting Assistant Secretary of State -- and I’m pausing because maybe he wasn’t already encumbering that job -- or it would have been Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent.

Q  Did you communicate -- how did you communicate usually with Washington from the embassy?

A  On -- well, we communicate with Washington in many different ways, but on this, it was either on a secure phone or in what we call a SVTC, a secure video teleconference.

Q  Any cables on the topic?

A  No.

Q  Why not?

A  It just felt too political.

Q  So your concern at this point was that this was political, that this related to domestic politics, which -- and explain why that was a concern of yours?

A  Well, you know, as I stated in my opening statement, in the Foreign Service at embassies, we have to leave politics in the United States. I mean, we represent all Americans. We represent our policy. And for us to start, you know, meddling around in, you know, Presidential elections, politics, et cetera, we lose our credibility that way. We need to be, you know, as credible to this side of the aisle as to that side of the aisle. And so, we didn’t know what was going on, but I was not comfortable with putting anything in front channel.

Q  You mentioned this information from Dale Perry. Who is Dale Perry?

A  He had an energy company in the Ukraine, which, according to this open letter that he put out in April, he was kind of putting on pause for a while.

Q  He was putting his company on pause?

A  I said that kind of loosely, but I think that he was going to be -- it’s been a long time since I’ve read it. He was going to, you know, focus on his business in the United States rather than in the Ukraine. Maybe that’s a better way of putting it.

Q  And can you describe the sum and substance of this open letter and why it caught your eye in particular?

A  Well, because it was the first -- except for the meeting with Mr. Avakov, it was the first time that I heard the names of Mr. Parnas and Fruman. And there was some detail there about meetings and so forth.

Q  And what did you come to understand about Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman?

MR. MALONEY: Excuse me. Would it be possible for the witness to speak into the microphone?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yes, of course. I’m sorry.

I’m sorry, what was the question?


Q  I asked what the open letter revealed about Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman?

A  That they had business interests in the United States, that they were looking to, I think expand is probably a better way of putting it, their business interests in Ukraine through this energy company, and that they needed a better ambassador to sort of facilitate their business’ efforts here.

Q  And at that point, did you understand what their concern was about you?

A  Not really. I found it completely mysterious.

Q  And did you learn whether Mr. Giuliani shared the concerns of Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman in and around April?

A  I don’t recall when, you know, when -- well, actually, I think Mr. Avakov actually mentioned it to me in February, that these were the two individuals that had helped Mr. Lutsenko make contact with Mr. Giuliani.

Q  And did you become aware of whether Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman met with any other senior Ukrainian officials?

A  I’m not aware of it.

Q  Other than encouraging your -- or speaking out against you, was there anything else in that Dale Perry open letter that was particularly relevant to your role as the ambassador in Ukraine?

A  I don’t recall. I mean, I simply don’t recall.

Q  Now, let’s talk for a second about the three contacts you had with Mr. Giuliani. Can you describe those for us?

A  Uh-huh. The first time I met Mr. Giuliani was in the 2003-2004 timeframe, and I was the deputy at the embassy in Ukraine. And Mayor Giuliani placed a courtesy call with his wife on our ambassador at the time, Ambassador Herbst. And the ambassador asked me to sit in on that call.

Q  Okay. Did you -- let me ask it this way: While you were ambassador of Ukraine, did you ever meet with Mr. Giuliani?

A  Yes, I met with him twice. The first time was in the spring, I think it was June of 2017, 2017. And -- yes, it was 2017. It was at a dinner that one of the -- Victor Pinchuk, who’s a businessman/oligarch in Ukraine, and he has a YES Foundation where he invites prominent people from all over the world, not just Americans, to come and address students and do various things. And then he always has a dinner where he invites, you know, top Ukrainian politicians and several ambassadors.

So it was a dinner for about 25 people, and then at the end of that dinner, I introduced myself to Mayor Giuliani as the ambassador.

Q  And did you talk about anything more substantively than small talk?

A  No. I mean, I introduced myself. I told him, you know, if there was anything I could do to help him, I’d be happy to help.

Q  And then when was the next time?

A  And then the next time was that fall in November of 2017, where he invited me -- he was coming to Ukraine, and through one of his associates, he invited me to a breakfast at the hotel that he was staying in.

Q  Who was his associate?

A  John Huvane, H-u-v-a-n-e.

Q  And what was the purpose of the breakfast?

A  I wasn’t exactly sure. But, you know, obviously Mayor Giuliani is an important person in the United States, and so I agreed to go. And he -- yeah. So not quite clear why he wanted me there.

Q  What did you discuss at the breakfast?

A  He -- it was -- he had just been in Kharkiv, which is a city to the north in Ukraine, and he had -- some of the people who were present -- I don’t recall all of the people who were present -- are from -- were from Kharkiv, one of the Rada deputies from Kharkiv, also a businessman and oligarch named Fuchs from Kharkiv.

So he had just been up there, and he had been talking to the mayor, Mayor Kernes, about helping them set up a system similar to our 911 system; and then the other thing is helping them set up police forces, city police, municipal police forces similar to our own, because in Ukraine it’s all run at the national level.

Q  And so you never -- you didn’t speak to him since

A  No.

Q  -- November 2017?

A  No.

Q  Are you aware of whether Mr. Giuliani spoke to anyone else in the embassy in Kyiv?

A  I don’t think so. I think they would have told me if that had been the case.

Q  How about Mr. Parnas or Mr. Fruman?

A  No. When the open letter came out, I did ask our economic and couns -- excuse me, commercial attaches whether, you know, I mean, did these individuals reach out and were they interested in setting stuff up and how did we help them, because clearly we hadn’t helped them very well. And nobody had heard those names before.

Q  Was it your view that what you understood Mr. Giuliani’s efforts to be in Ukraine, did they contradict, to your understanding, U.S. policy in Ukraine?

MR. ROBBINS: I’m sorry, are you asking whether she formed that view while she was in office or whether, in retrospect, she has that view today?


Q  Let’s start while you were in office. In the February meeting with Minister Avakov, where you understood that Mr. Giuliani was promoting -- well, let me ask you, was he promoting investigations related to Paul Manafort and the collusion and Burisma and Joe Biden?

A  It wasn’t entirely clear to me what was going on. I mean, I’m sorry to be not specific, but it wasn’t entirely clear.

Q  But you understood that he was speaking to the Prosecutor General Lutsenko about those topics?

A  Uh-huh, uh-huh.

Q  Sorry, you need to say yes.

A  Yes. Excuse me.

Q  And what was your assessment of whether those interests -- or how did those interests relate to official U.S. policy?

A  Well, I mean, when I think about official U.S. policy, I think of people who are in government shaping that policy, creating the policy, or implementing it, whether they are in the executive branch or, you know, in Congress. Obviously, there’s a partnership there for that. So private individuals, for the most part, I mean, that’s not official U.S. anything.

Q  Right. And so, as someone who was effecting official U.S. policy, what was your view of Mr. Giuliani’s efforts there?

A  Well, we were concerned, like I said. You know, I mean, we talked to Washington, what do you think is going on here? It was worrisome, in the sense that the Ukrainians also didn’t know how to understand it. And obviously, some felt that they could -- like Mr. Lutsenko, that they could manage that relationship and it would benefit them.

Q  Now, you came to understand, right, that Mr. Giuliani was pushing Mr. Lutsenko to open investigations into these topics, is that right, while you were there?

A  You know, it’s hard to remember when exactly I sort of put it together.

Q  Well, Mr. Lutsenko -- while you were still there, Mr. Lutsenko announced the initiation of investigations on these topics. Do you recall that?

A  I guess I haven’t at the moment, but --

Q  I’m sorry?

A  No.

THE CHAIRMAN: Let me, just for clarification, follow up on my colleague’s question. He asked you about whether what you understood at the time to be the efforts of Mr. Giuliani and his associates were furthering, or antagonistic to U.S. policy interests.

If Mr. Giuliani and his associates were pushing Ukraine to involve itself in U.S. domestic politics, let alone the 2020 election, would that have been inconsistent with U.S. policy, inconsistent with U.S. interests?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I mean, I think the short answer is probably yes. I mean, I don’t think we had a policy -- because this is sort of unprecedented. It’s not like we had a policy that Ukraine should not become involved in our domestic politics or, you know, somehow become involved in 2020 elections, but clearly, that is not in U.S. interests for Ukraine to start playing such a role.

THE CHAIRMAN: And it wouldn’t be in Ukraine’s interests either?



Q  Would you call that, to some extent, antidemocratic?

A  Let me just say that I think that American elections should be for Americans to decide.

Q  Do you recall a speech you gave on March 5th?

A  I do.

Q  And I believe in that speech, you said that it is -- I don’t remember the exact quote, but it is inappropriate for governments to engage in domestic politics in other countries. Is that right?

A  Yes.

Q  Or, actually, in their own -- I don’t think you specified as to other countries, right?

A  I don’t actually recall saying that particular thing, but I’ll take your word for it.

Q  It was an interesting quote so -- here it is. I believe you said: Government resources should never be used to target political opponents.

A  Yes.

Q  What did you mean by that at that time?

THE CHAIRMAN: Could you move the microphone a little closer.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yes. Thank you for reminding me. What I meant was -- I mean, this was a speech where it was during Presidential elections, and what we were seeing was that President Poroshenko’s polls were going down. There were a lot of people afraid that Poroshenko was going to lose and what would that mean for them and their interests. And so we were seeing the rollback of some reforms that the Poroshenko administration had done, and that we had, you know, thought was very important that we had helped them with.

And so that was the purpose of that speech was to say, these are important accomplishments, and you need to keep on working at that and don’t roll it back.

And so that particular point was that in the former Soviet Union, in a number of countries, including Ukraine at one time, if you’re in power you have a lot of what they call administrative resources, especially in a country where there is, you know, a vertical power, as they call it, where the President can tell the mayor, or the governor, because they appoint those individuals, you need to, you know, bring out this crowd, here’s money to pay off voters or whatever. And so that was a reference to that, that that is not an acceptable practice.

Q  So you were trying to promote in Ukraine the idea that politicians targeting their political rivals was inappropriate, right?

A  Well, I mean, democracy is all about the competition between political rivals, but one needs to do it in an appropriate way and not take government resources to do so.

Q  Would that also apply to using government resources to impact elections in other countries?

A  Yeah. I mean, I would think so, although, again, that was not the purpose of this speech.

Q  Understood. Were you aware, after you expressed your concerns back to the State Department in D.C., were you aware whether anyone tried to curtail Mr. Giuliani’s activities in Ukraine?

A  I -- curtail? I don’t know. I don’t know. I mean, I think there was concern.

Q  Okay. And did anyone act on that concern in any way?

A  I'm not sure. I'm not sure.

Q  You don't know of anything, but you can't be sure whether anyone did or not?

A  Yes.

Q  Did you document these concerns anywhere?

A  Yes. At the request -- and as I said before, I don't -- I didn't want to put anything in writing, certainly not front channel; but at the request of Under Secretary Hale, he asked me to send him a classified email, sort of putting out what -- this would have been like about March, like, maybe 27th, 28th, that Sunday that the tweet came out. And he asked me to send him an email on the classified system putting down my understanding of what was going on, which was very unformed still, and then why were people doing this. And so I did send that email to him.

Q  Did this follow the conversation that you had with Mr. Hale?

A  Yes.

Q  Can you describe the nature of that -- the nature and substance of that conversation with Mr. Hale?

A  Well, I had told -- I had sent an email to the State Department, because there was just an avalanche of attacks on me, on the embassy, in the press, and sort of Twitter storms and everything else. And so, I had told David Hale, among others, via email, that the State Department needed to come out and come out strong, because otherwise it just wasn't a sustainable position.

Q  Why not?

A  Well, if you have the President’s son saying, you know, we need to pull these clowns, or however he referred to me, it makes it hard to be a credible ambassador in a country.

Q  And so what did you want Mr. Hale to do?

A  What I wanted was the Secretary of State to issue a statement that said that, you know, I have his full confidence or something like that, to indicate that I, in fact, am the ambassador in Ukraine, and that I speak for the President, for the Secretary of State, for our country.

Q  In contrast to Mr. Giuliani?

A  I didn't put it that way.

Q  But was that what you meant?

A  Well, what I meant was that -- exactly what I just said.

Q  So it wasn't necessarily in direct relation to Mr. Giuliani. It was as much in response to the attacks on you from --

A  Yes.

Q  -- others, including the President's son?

A  Yes.

Q  And what did Mr. Hale say in response to that request?

A  He said he would talk to the Secretary.

Q  Did you ever hear back about that?

A  No.

Q  Was a statement ever issued?

A  No.

Q  Did you ever speak to the Secretary directly --

A  No.

Q  -- about any of this?

A  No.

Q  Did you ever speak to Ulrich Brechbuhl directly about this?

A  No. So I spoke with the Acting Assistant Secretary Phil Reeker, and he was talking I think to people on the seventh floor about this.

Q  So Mr. Reeker was relaying messages?

A  Uh-huh.

Q  And did he relay back to you what the responses were from the seventh floor?

A  Yes.

Q  And what were those?

A  I was told that there was caution about any kind of a statement, because it could be undermined.

Q  I'm sorry, it could be what?

A  It could be undermined.

Q  The statement could be undermined?

A  Uh-huh.

Q  By whom?

A  The President.

Q  In what way?

A  Well, a tweet or something. I mean, that was not made specific to me.

THE CHAIRMAN: I just want to make sure I'm understanding. The statement you're talking about, is that the requested statement by the Secretary of State?


THE CHAIRMAN: So you were informed, basically, that the statement was not going to be issued by the Secretary of State because it could be undermined by the President?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yes. No statement was going to be issued, not by the Secretary, not by anybody else.

THE CHAIRMAN: Because if the Secretary did issue a statement, it might be undermined by the President?


THE CHAIRMAN: Is that a yes?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yes, that is a yes.


Q  Now, you say you sent this email to Mr. Hale on the classified system, but were any of the contents of the email actually classified or was it just in order to maintain confidentiality?

A  I think it was just that it was so sensitive that, you know, I wouldn't have wanted to put it on the open system.

Q  Okay. I'll probably circle back to this a little bit in the next -- in our next round, but I want to just jump for the last couple minutes to the April 21st phone call that President Trump had on election night with President Zelensky.

A  Yes.

Q  Did you know that that call was going to happen?

A  Yeah, uh-huh.

Q  When did you learn that it was going to happen?

A  We had been recommending it, because it was clear that Zelensky was going to win, and win in a landslide. So we had been recommending it, you know, probably the previous week and, you know, as we thought about elections, even prior to that, you know, what is our engagement going to be with the new team and so forth?

And so most appropriate is for the President of the United States to make a call, and he did, on that Sunday night I think it was, Ukraine night.

Q  Did you help prepare the President for the call in any way?

A  No.

Q  Were you on the call?

A  No.

Q  Did you listen in?

A  No.

Q  Were you provided with a transcript or a summary of it?

A  No.

Q  Did you get a readout of what --

A  All I was told is that it was a good call and the two Presidents hit it off.

Q  Who --

A  And that it was a short call.

Q  Who told you this?

A  I -- I don't recall, actually. It was somebody in the State Department probably.

THE CHAIRMAN: Can I just ask on that, would it be customary for the ambassador to get a readout of a conversation between the President of the United States and the President of the country to which they're the ambassador?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: It depends on the administration.

THE CHAIRMAN: Okay. Would it be useful, as ambassador, to know --

MS. YOVANOVITCH: It would be very useful.


Q  And when you say, it depends on the administration, what happened in the Obama administration?

A  We would get a transcript.

Q  You would get a transcript?

A  Uh-huh.

Q  And what happened during your tenure in the Trump administration?

A  And when I say "transcript," I mean, sometimes it was a transcript, sometimes it was a summary.

And what was your question?

Q  And what happened in the Trump administration?

A  Well, there weren't that many calls, at least to Ukraine. And, you know, sometimes we would get sort of an oral readout or, you know, brief little points, but never a -- to my recollection, at least, never a full, you know, transcript.

Q  And what about in the Bush administration, when you were an ambassador in W. Bush?

A  Right. Again, because I was in Kyrgyzstan and Armenia, there weren't that many Presidential calls.

Q  Understood.

MR. GOLDMAN: I think our time is up. So we'll resume after the minority, but would you like to take a quick bathroom break?

MR. ROBBINS: For sure.

THE CHAIRMAN: Let's take a 5-minute break and resume.


THE CHAIRMAN: All right, folks. Let's come back to order. Counsel for the minority, you have one hour.


Q  Good afternoon, Ambassador, Steve Castor with the Republican staff. Thanks for coming in. And I'd like to state at the outset, I'm not a career Foreign Service person. I'm a congressional staffer and have been for some time, specializing in investigations.

So, to the extent I mispronounce some of these names or mix up something, please accept my apologies in advance. I mean no disrespect. Our staff, and certainly our members, have the utmost respect for you and for the men and women of the Foreign Service, and they do such an important job on the front lines of diplomacy. So --

A  Thank you.

Q  Can you just help us understand the direction you've been given, in terms of what constitutes executive branch confidentiality and privileges?

MR. ROBBINS: So anything she would know, Mr. Castor, on that subject, she would know through advice of counsel. So would you just as soon get that information from me, since it would be privileged coming from her?

MR. CASTOR: Certainly, sir.

MR. ROBBINS: So I tried to share that with you at the outset. The State Department has advised us, in discussions that we've had with them, that there may be communications as to which they would wish to assert not executive privilege as such, because that's a privilege that belongs to the President, but, rather, a different category of privilege which extends, in their view, to executive communications between members of the executive branch other than direct communications with the President himself.

Because I thought it appropriate to assert on their behalf such privileges where they were appropriate, I invited them to give us a document, a letter, if you will. I believe I shared this fact with you over the phone.

I had reason until yesterday to believe that we would, in fact, receive such a letter, which I had told them I would share with the committee at the outset of these proceedings so that the scope of their objections would be clear at the outset, and it would spare me the obligation of having to anticipate what those objections might be.

In the end, for reasons I cannot provide, because I don't know, I never received such a letter. So I guess I could do my best to tell you what I think they think, but I can't be sure I'm right.

MR. CASTOR: Thank you.


Q  Ambassador, do you believe you're authorized to testify here today, on behalf of the State Department?

MR. ROBBINS: That sounds like a -- calls for a legal conclusion. I can tell you, as her counsel, that -- and I believe, again, you know all these things since I've shared them all with you as I have with majority counsel -- she received a direction by the Under Secretary to decline to appear voluntarily.

It did not address the question whether she should or should not appear in response to a subpoena. A subpoena thereafter issued. She is here pursuant to that subpoena. I have shared with both sides of the aisle a letter explaining why, in my view, it was appropriate, indeed required, for her to appear pursuant to that subpoena.

The question whether she is, quote/unquote, "authorized" strikes me as a question of law. As I expect you know, she is not a lawyer, and anything she would venture on that question would be the result of privileged communications, which I am directing her not to reveal.


Q  Can you help us understand the Washington chain of command, how administration policy was communicated to you?

A  Yes. I mean, you know, it happens in different ways, but, you know, we communicate by phone, through cable traffic, through emails. And because Ukraine, you know, it was a very challenging period during the time that I was there. It was a very challenging period during the time that I was there. And so we often would have interagency meetings via secure teleconferencing. And so, you know, through all those ways, you know, we work as a team together.

Q  And who did you report to back in Washington?

A  Either Assistant Secretary Wess Mitchell, and then when he left, Acting Assistant Secretary Phil Reeker. They are my, you know, formal bosses, shall we say. The day-to-day was generally with the Deputy Assistant Secretary. So in the beginning, it was Bridget Brink, and then it was George Kent.

And just to clarify, not all communication goes through me. We have a big interagency at the embassy, and so, you know, there's lots of communication back and forth.

Q  And what communications did you have with the White House or the National Security Council?

A  There was less of that. The State Department, as you may know, likes to manage that themselves through Washington, and -- but often, they were on emails. Sometimes I would reach out, hopefully always copying my colleagues at the State Department, and that sort of thing.

Q  You mentioned --

A  And they would be obviously running the interagency meetings.

Q  You mentioned Dr. Fiona Hill this morning --

A  Yes.

Q  -- as one of the National Security Council officials that was in your -- in this area of interest?

A  Uh-huh. Yes.

Q  Any other National Security Council officials? Was she your primary liaison at NSC?

A  Uh-huh.

Q  And how frequently did you communicate with her?

A  Not that often.

Q  By "not that often," is that weekly, monthly?

A  Yeah. I mean, on the phone, fairly rarely. You know, interagency meetings, you know, we would have them. She wouldn't always chair them, but, you know, sometimes -- it would depend what would happen, but every 2 weeks.

I'm being helped here.

Yes. And -- I'm sorry, I've lost my train of thought.

So how often --

Q  Communicate with Fiona Hill?

A  But she would be on emails too.

Q  Was she providing direction to you, or were you providing direction to her? How did that information flow?

A  Well, it's a partnership. I mean, obviously, the NSC works for the President directly. And so, you know, they may share information or tell us what to do, and we provide information about what's going on in the field. We provide suggestions. You know, in the previous example about the telephone call between -- the first telephone call between President Trump and President Zelensky, we thought that that was an important first step in engaging a new administration, for example.

Q  Can you tell us about the political environment in the Ukraine leading up to the election of President Zelensky?

A  Well, it was -- so 5 years after the Revolution of Dignity. And the Revolution of Dignity really sparked a big change in Ukraine. I think the Poroshenko administration did a lot, but, clearly, the electorate felt that it didn't do enough.

And so Zelensky in two rounds won over 70 percent of the vote. I mean, that's a pretty big mandate. And I think it seemed to be based on this issue of corruption. He said it was his number one goal, although he was also very focused on bringing peace to the country in the Donbass.

And I think that there was, you know, as is true, I think, probably in any country during Presidential elections, a lot of -- a lot of concerns among people. This was I think a big surprise for the political elite of Ukraine, which is relatively small. And so, I don't think they saw it coming really until the very end. And, so, there was surprise and, you know, all the stages of grief, anger, disbelief, how is this happening?

Q  When did you and the embassy first realize that Zelensky may be elected?

A  Well, we were watching the polls. I mean, you know, that's one of the things we do. And he was rising in the spring and kind of over the summer, but, you know, not much happens over the summer. So I asked to meet with him for the first time in September of 2018.

Q  And at what point did you realize that he was likely to win?

A  You know, it's hard to look back and actually know without sort of reference to notes and stuff. I think -- I mean, we were taking him seriously, very seriously by December. And, you know, January, February, I think we felt he was probably going to be the next President.

Q  And how did you feel about that? What were your views of Zelensky? Did you think he was going to be a good advocate for the anticorruption initiatives, as he was campaigning on?

A  We didn't know. I mean, he was an untried politician. Obviously, he has a background as a comedian, as an actor, as a businessperson, but we didn't know what he would be like as a President.

Q  And what were your views on President Poroshenko?

A  I think President Poroshenko, you know, like many leaders, is a very complicated man. And so he has worked in -- he has been active in Ukrainian politics since, I want to say, the late 1990s, certainly the early 2000s, when I was there before. He is a businessman and very accomplished in many different ways.

And he came into office -- I believe he might be the only President who was voted into office in the first round, not going to a second round. People really wanted to give him that mandate, because the country was in a surprising war in 2014, and they thought that even though he was an oligarch himself, that he could bring the country forward.

And I think what we've seen in his administration is that he made a lot of important changes. There were more reforms in Ukraine during President Poroshenko's term than, frankly, in all the preceding -- under all the preceding Presidents.

But I think that, you know, as time passed, as the, shall we say the old system wasn't as scared anymore as they were in 2014, as they felt there was more space to kind of pursue their own interests, it became harder to pursue those reforms and there was less interest. Because when you reform, especially on the very sensitive issue of corruption issues, every time you make a decision, you're probably going against your own interests or a friend's interests or something like that when you make a new law or whatever it might be. And so it's hard.

And so there was kind of a slowing down. And I think what we've seen in 2014, in 2019, is that what the Ukrainian people want is transformation. They don't want just a couple of changes here and there and kind of sugarcoating it on the top.

Q  So the Ukrainian people thought that he wasn't changing fast enough?

A  That is our analysis.

Q  And that first became real crystal clear in December 2018, or --

A  Well, no. I mean, he was -- in about 2016, he was starting to go down in the polls, before I arrived. And I think it's because there was a lot of political in-fighting between him and his prime minister. People apparently didn't like that. But I think there was also a sense in the country that he was attending to his own personal interests as well, and people didn't appreciate that.

Q  And can you explain a little bit about how, as the ambassador, you have to toggle between the current President, the incumbent President, and what could be a new President?

A  Right, right. So, you know, our role is obviously to represent the United States, but it's also to, you know, meet with as many different kinds of people as possible, as many political forces as possible, not just me, but, you know, there's a whole embassy that is involved in this, and, you know, to get information, obviously, so that we can let Washington know what we think is happening in a country, what our analysis is of this, what it means for our interests, and provide advice, policy options for how to move forward.

I mean, often Presidents don't like it when you are meeting with their political rivals, but, I mean, we're pretty transparent, and we let people know that, you know, this is what the U.S. does. We meet with everybody who's a legitimate political force out there. And, you know, often the other -- we wouldn't, you know, publicize it, but often, the people that we are meeting with do. So it wasn't like there were any secrets or anything like that.

And, you know, you do business with the current President. You do -- you -- we talked to his campaign manager often about, you know, where they were, what their strategies were, what they thought was going to happen, et cetera, et cetera. We met with, you know, not just Zelensky but with the others who were running for President. And we conveyed that back to Washington.

Q  And what do you think President Zelensky felt about you?

A  Well, until I read the -- you know, the summary of the conversation of the July 25th call, I thought he liked me.

Q  So the transcript of the July 25th call took you by surprise?

A  Yes.

Q  And do you have any reason to know why President Zelensky felt that way?

A  Well, I can't say I know. I can't say I know.

Q  What do you think?

A  Well, what I think is that he thought that that would be something pleasing for President Trump.

Q  Do you think that some of the interested parties that you discussed in the first round this morning had gotten to Zelensky, or do you think Zelensky had just --

MR. ROBBINS: Do you really want her to engage in that degree of speculation? I mean, she'll answer the question, but she’s already made clear that she was totally surprised by the contents of that conversation. So anything she could tell you -- and she will respond, but it's all guesswork. If that’s what you'd like, that’s what she'll give you.


Q  Have you learned anything since that information came out to help you better understand exactly what happened leading up to that call?

A  The July 25th call?

Q  Yes.

A  No.

Q  The various anticorruption initiatives in Ukraine, could you walk us through sort of the landscape of the various entities? There's, you know, the National Anticorruption Bureau, and then the prosecutor general has a special prosecutor. Could you sort of walk us through the anticorruption institutions?

A  Uh-huh. So after the 2014 elections, the Ukrainian people had made clear in that election that they were done with corruption, and they wanted to live a life with dignity, called the Revolution of Dignity. And what that term means for Ukrainians is that it's rule of law, that what applies to you applies to me. It doesn't matter whether, you know, we hold different jobs or different status in society. It should be about the rule of law. And we wanted to support that effort, and there was kind of an all-out effort.

And in the very, very beginning, one of the things -- and the Ukrainians, and we supported them in other ways on anticorruption issues, but I will just address the question. So they thought that it would be a good idea to set up this architecture, as you call it, of a special investigative office that would be all about the crimes of corruption above a certain level of public officials. And so it would be devoted to that. So they would set up that organization, kind of like an FBI, but for a particular mission.

Secondly, there would be a special independent anticorruption prosecutor, which, as you said, reported to Mr. Lutsenko. And then there would be a special anticorruption court. So that you would have, you know, this continuum of new organizations with vetted individuals who are trained who are handling these crimes, people who would get reasonable salaries so that they wouldn't actually be forced to go out and take bribes.

And so when I arrived in the summer of 2016, August 2016, the NABU, the investigatory branch had already been established, as had the anticorruption prosecutor, they were all -- they were both established. The court was not established until much later, and it only started working in September of this year, September 2019.

So, you know, first of all, I mean, there's so many forces working against these courts, but it was -- against these institutions, but it was also kind of an issue that when they had court cases ready to go, they would go into the same old court system as before, which had not been reformed at that time.

Q  And who was the special prosecutor?

A  Mr. Kholodnitsky.

Q  Was he the only special prosecutor or did somebody precede him?

A  He's the only one.

Q  And he's still there today?

A  Yes. I believe so. Yes.

Q  What is your impression of his work? Better than Lutsenko, worse?

A  Well, if I may, I don't think that comparisons are helpful here. I think that in the beginning, perhaps Kholodnitsky was committed, you know, to his mission, but I think over time, there's a lot of pressure, as I said, from all of the forces that will, you know, help you with funding, shall we say, or, alternatively, have what they call kompromat, or compromising information on you. They play hardball there.

And so I think it became harder and harder to resist, and it appeared that he was not making progress in the way that we had originally hoped. And then he was -- there was a tape that was revealed where he was heard coaching individuals on how to testify and various other things. And so that's clearly not an acceptable practice for a prosecutor.

Q  Who was he trying to coach?

A  I don't recall at the moment.

Q  Was he trying to coach people that were under actual investigation?

A  Yes. I'm sorry, I didn't realize. I thought you wanted the name. Yeah.

Q  And he reported to Lutsenko?

A  Yeah. It was kind of complicated. I think it was -- he did. Although it was sort of more of a dotted line, but yes, he did report to Mr. Lutsenko.

Q  And what was your relationship with Kholodnitsky? Did you have meetings with him? Did you have an exchange of ideas?

A  I mean, yes, but not very often. We had a -- you know, many other people in the embassy handled that relationship.

Q  Now, during your tenure, did you ever have to call for the resignation or firing of any Ukrainian official?

A  In the speech that you referred to on March 5th, when we were very concerned about some of the rollbacks, as I said, as they were looking at the Presidential elections coming up. And one of the things I said is that it was inappropriate, or words to that effect, for somebody who had engaged in those kinds of activities to still be in his job.

Q  Was that taken as that you were calling for Kholodnitsky's ouster?

A  Uh-huh.

Q  And was that position something that you carefully thought out before the speech, or was it just a product of where the conversation took you? Did you go into the speech knowing that you were going to be --

A  Yes.

Q  You did, okay.

And was that the position of the embassy?

A  Yes.

Q  And, so, you planned that out, and before you did that, did you make any -- your position known? Did you try anything on the nonpublic side?

A  Yes.

Q  And could you describe those efforts?

A  We worked with Mr. Lutsenko on that, because he was one of the individuals -- there were various stages, and he was one of the people who was responsible at the end.

Q  This do-not-prosecute list -- and you'll have to excuse me if -- you know, you've stated that it's been -- Lutsenko's recanted various statements about the do-not-prosecute list, but if I may, can I walk through with you your understanding of where this comes from?

A  Uh-huh.

Q  Okay. How many -- how frequently did you meet with Lutsenko?

A  Maybe about 10 or 12 times over 3 years, maybe more.

Q  Was it a regular -- did you have like a regular standing meeting --

A  No.

Q  -- or did you just meet with him when he asked you?

A  As with, you know, Mr. Kholodnitsky, we have a pretty big embassy in Ukraine, and so there are a number of offices that handle law enforcement or prosecutorial, et cetera, issues.

And so those people mostly handle those relationships. And, you know, if there was a need for me to meet with him then I would meet with him, or if he requested a meeting, for example.

Q  When did the do-not-investigate list first come into your awareness?

A  From --

MR. ROBBINS: I'm sorry, forgive me, but that question sort of presupposes that it's an actual thing.

MR. CASTOR: Well, it's an allegation that Lutsenko has made.

MR. ROBBINS: Would you mind just rephrasing it? When did the allegation of such a list come to your attention as opposed to presupposing that it's an actual thing in the world, which it is not.


Q  When did this allegation first come to your attention, and when do you think Lutsenko is alleging the communication happened between you and him?

A  Well, according to the article, or the interview in The Hill, from, I think, it was March 24th, that's when I first became aware of these allegations. And he claims that it was -- in that interview, he claimed that it was in the first meeting with me.

Q  And when was the first meeting with him, if you can remember generally?

A  October 2016.

Q  So clearly, this took you by surprise. Is that fair?

A  That is very fair.

Q  And did you communicate your surprise or your anger to Lutsenko's office or him directly after it came to your attention?

A  I don't think so. I didn't think there would have been any point in that.

Q  Or by that time, had your relationship soured to the point where it wasn't worth it to you?

A  Well, I wasn't aware until I read that article of how sour the relationship was.

Q  After the article, did you have any meetings with Lutsenko?

A  No.

Q  When is the last time you met with him?

A  You know, maybe in the fall of 2018.

Q  Did you develop any intelligence between the fall of 2018 and March 24th that the relationship with Lutsenko has gone south?

A  Well, as I described previously, Mr. Avakov let me know that Mr. Lutsenko was communicating with Mr. Giuliani.

Q  When was the meeting with Avakov, again?

A  In February of 2019.

Q  When you read about this allegation, why didn't you try to reach out to Lutsenko and holler at him and say, Why are you saying this? This is completely untrue.

A  I didn't really think there was any point.

Q  Did any of your embassy staff communicate at a lower level?

A  I'm sure they did, but I don't know.

Q  But not at your behest?

A  No.

Q  When you were in your opening statement this morning, which, by the way, I'm not sure if you brought copies of that, but it might be helpful for the members.

MR. ROBBINS: We're happy to provide whatever you need.

MR. CASTOR: You're making some copies, okay. We heard during the break that The Washington Post has it and there’s all sorts of discussion about it, and so here in the secure environment, we --

MS. LI WAI SUEN: It was provided electronically before. We provided an electronic copy to the House staff.

MR. CASTOR: Okay, me? Okay. We didn't get a copy of it so --

MS. RUBENSTEIN: We provided it to the security folks, is that who? It wasn't provided to either Democratic or Republican staff, as we understand it.


Q  Anyway, it's apparently been provided to The Washington Post, so some of our members during the break asked me to ascertain if you know how that may have happened.

MR. ROBBINS: Anything she would know about that, she would know through counsel, so she's not going to answer that.

MR. CASTOR: Did you provide it to The Washington Post?

MR. ROBBINS: I'm not going to answer that either.


MR. ROBBINS: Because I'm not going to answer that.

MR. MEADOWS: Steve, can I ask one follow-up?

MR. CASTOR: Certainly, sir.

MR. MEADOWS: So, Counselor, if, indeed, you gave it to The Washington Post, did you believe that that was something that would be supported by this committee?

MR. ROBBINS: I'm sorry, I'm not going to engage in any answers regarding work product or attorney-client privilege, and I'm not the witness. So if you have another pending question for the ambassador, you should ask it.

[12:57 p.m.]

MR. MEADOWS: Ambassador, are you aware of anyone connected to you that might have given that to The Washington Post?

MR. ROBBINS: Anything she would know regarding that, she would know through counsel, if at all, and she's not going to answer that question.

MR. ZELDIN: Are you saying that it's subject to an attorney-client privilege, your communications with The Washington Post?

MR. ROBBINS: I'm sorry. Any communication that she may have had between -- no, no. Well, they have a copy. We made the copies available to the security -- to the security folks for the committee from either side of the aisle.

Anything that the witness knows -- and I'm not saying she knows anything -- but anything she knows, she would know through counsel, and she's instructed not to answer that question.

MR. ZELDIN: Are you asserting an attorney-client privilege for communications that you have had with The Washington Post?

MR. ROBBINS: No. Let me try it again. I'm asserting an attorney-client privilege with respect to communications between me and the witness.

The question is pending to the witness. The question was, does the witness know how, if at all, The Washington Post got a copy of this document. That calls for privileged communications, period. That's the subject of my objection.

MR. JORDAN: I think that, Mr. Chairman, you can instruct him to answer that question, I believe. And I would also ask, did --

THE CHAIRMAN: Counsel will please direct their questions to the witness and leave the counsel for the witness to advise the witness of what the witness can answer or not answer based on attorney-client privilege.

MR. JORDAN: Did -- if I could, Ambassador, did prior -- if, in fact, you did -- did you talk to the State Department about the possibility of releasing your opening statement to the press?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I haven't talked to the State Department.

MR. ROBBINS: You can answer that.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I haven't talked to the State Department.

MR. JORDAN: Did your counselor talk to the State Department about releasing your opening statement to the press?

MR. ROBBINS: Same exact objection. She would know that, if at all, only by virtue of privileged communications between the lawyers and her, and she’s not going to answer that.

Next question.

MR. CASTOR: There's a -- you know, part of our deposition rules, there's a prohibition against disclosing the contents of the testimony. And so in case that's helpful for you to understand why there's some concern.

MR. ROBBINS: Yeah. I'm totally mindful of that.

MR. ZELDIN: Ambassador Yovanovitch --

THE CHAIRMAN: Let me clarify for the Members. There's no prohibition on what this witness can say to us or to the public. The Members are prohibited from discussing the contents of the deposition.

MR. ZELDIN: Ambassador Yovanovitch, do you believe that it is appropriate for your opening statement to be provided to The Washington Post?

MR. ROBBINS: If you have an opinion on that, you can answer it.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I think that there’s a lot of interest in this deposition.

MR. ZELDIN: Is it your opinion that only your opening statement should be provided to The Washington Post?

MR. ROBBINS: If you have a view on that, you can answer it.

MR. BITAR: Sorry. For the record, the opening statement is being circulated in hard copy. It was provided prior to the interview to the nonpartisan security staff of the House Intelligence Committee. They had not made sufficient copies at the time, but at the request, more copies were made and they are circulating now, so all Members should have a copy. Thank you.

MR. ZELDIN: Ambassador Yovanovitch, would you like to answer that question? Do you believe that only your opening statement should be provided to the press?

[Discussion off the record.]

MR. ROBBINS: If you have an opinion, you can answer his question.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Okay. I actually don't really have an opinion on that. I haven't thought about this in terms of what is most appropriate or not appropriate to share with the greater public, but I do know that there is a lot of interest in this.


Q  How did the -- how does the embassy and the State Department collect information from social media?

A  I'm sorry. Could you repeat?

Q  Could you help us understand how the embassy and the State Department back in Washington collects information on social media?

A  I can't really answer the question, because I don't know all the inner details of how the press section works to gather information. But they provide us with a press summary, or they used to provide me, I mean. They provide the embassy with a press summary and it goes out to other people at the State Department as well.

Q  And is part of that monitoring social media accounts from --

A  Yeah. I mean, in today's age, yeah, social media is really important.

Q  And who determines which social media accounts are monitored?

A  I don't really know. I mean, I think it's probably a corporate decision in the press section of what are the issues that we're most interested in at the time. And I'm sure that over time it often changes, because, you know, different media influencers, or whatever you call them, you know, are into different topics that might be of interest to us.

Q  And when the efforts to bring you back took shape, did the embassy begin to step up their efforts in trying to figure out where these initiatives were coming from by looking at social media accounts?

A  Well, I think what the embassy was -- you know, after the March 24th Hill article, I think then -- and then there was just an explosion in parts of the media and on social media. And so -- so we, you know, were interested in, you know, kind of keeping track of the story so that we would know what was going on.

Q  And --

A  Because I mean, there's an interest -- obviously, I had an interest since I was being directly attacked --

Q  Yeah.

A  -- but there's also -- I mean, it's not like the Ukrainians where we were working were not following this as well. And so, you know, one had to be aware.

Q  Are you familiar with something called CrowdTangle?

A  No.

Q  It’s a software for mining open source materials.

A  Uh-huh.

Q  So you're not familiar with that?

A  No.

Q  At any point did you -- did you know who, you know, which Americans were being monitored?

MR. ROBBINS: I'm sorry. By "monitored," you mean --

MR. CASTOR: On the social media. We were talking about social media, mining social media, trying to better understand --

MR. ROBBINS: I'm sorry. Mining? That is to say, like, data mining?


MR. ROBBINS: Okay. Are you presuming that there was data mining going on?

MR. CASTOR: Presuming that social media -- it's my understanding of her testimony that social media accounts were studied and examined and --

MR. ROBBINS: I'm sorry. Do you want to restate your testimony as to how social media is followed in the embassy at the time you were ambassador, because I think there may be a misunderstanding about the nature of that work?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yeah. And, honestly, I don't really know. I mean, I received the finished product, which is a summary of what folks in the press section thought was the most important, you know, whether it's hard print, a CNN or a FOX interview, you know, tweets or Facebook postings or whatever. I'm not -- I'm just not involved in the details of how -- how things happen, you know, how --


Q  And do you know if the embassy staff that dealt with this liaised with Washington for extra assistance or did they handle it all themselves?

A  At a certain point, to take advantage of the 7-hour time difference, because this was, you know, kind of a pretty -- pretty big task for our press section, they did request assistance from -- from Washington, yes.

Q  And who in Washington is responsible for that?

A  Public Affairs in the European Bureau was who I think that they reached out to.

Q  And did you have any discussions with any officials in D.C. about that?

A  Yeah. I felt that our staff in Kyiv was really being kind of run ragged, and could we get some more assistance.

Q  And who did you speak with?

A  I know I spoke with George Kent. I'm not sure if I spoke with anybody else. And he was, just to remind, he was the deputy assistant secretary. So -- yeah.

Q  And did you have a request or did your media affairs officials put the request through? Did you just ask for resources or did you ask for a specific request?

A  Well, we thought that what would be most helpful, since it was a 7-hour time difference, that, you know, when we, you know, go home, that maybe Washington could take over, like, looking and seeing what, you know, what's playing out in real time, and they could do a little summary and, you know, send it back to us so that we could have that kind of really good coverage.

Q  And did that occur?

A  No.

Q  And did you ask for reasons why that didn't occur?

A  Well, I mean, what we were told is that folk sin Washington were too busy to do this, et cetera, et cetera. I mean, it's always kind of a, you know, personnel or resource issue and so forth.

Q  Okay. How many times did you discuss this with George Kent?

A  I don't know. Maybe once or twice.

Q  Once or twice.

A  I mean, I don't recall.

Q  Is it possible your staff was having additional communications with George Kent's folks?

A  Oh, I’m sure, yeah.

Q  And did they get any feedback as to why they couldn't support the request?

A  Yeah. I mean, it was a resourcing issue, is my understanding.

Q  It was a resource issue?

A  Yeah.

Q  Were there certain political --

A  And so, I mean, so they would -- you know, obviously it's dealt with at the working level first. And then when there was no, shall we say, the kind of response we would have liked, then I talked to George at some point and saying, Really, you know, you really can't help us? And the answer was no.

Q  In your opening statement, I guess it's page 6 --

A  I might have different pagination.

Q  Oh, okay.

A  Okay. I have different pagination, I believe, from you, so you might have to --

Q  It's page 6 of the statement, the bullet point. It begins with, "As for events during my tenure in Ukraine."

A  Uh-huh.

Q  "I want to categorically state that I have never myself or through others directly or indirectly ever directed, suggested, or in any way asked for any government or government official in Ukraine or elsewhere to refrain from investigating or prosecuting actual corruption."

Was there ever an initiative to urge the, you know, any of these prosecutors from not prosecuting good government, you know, people that were interested in good government and anticorruption initiatives?

A  Could you restate that question?

Q  Was there ever any communication to the prosecutors offices whether they should not prosecute people in favor of supporting anticorruption initiatives, good government actors? Were the good government actors ever at risk for prosecution?

A  Yeah. I mean, it happens all the time. It's one of the ways that a corrupt government can pressure people.

Q  And did you or the embassy ever urge the prosecutor not to prosecute those individuals that were in favor of good government and anticorruption initiatives?

A  Well, what we would say is that any kind of prosecution of whoever, whether they are, you know, good actors or bad actors, needs to be done according to the law and there needs -- and it needs to be not politically motivated.

Q  And so the question is, did you ever think that someone was being prosecuted wrongly because they were a good government actor, they were trying to support anticorruption initiatives?

A  I think there was probably a lot of politically motivated prosecution going on in Ukraine.

Q  And did you ever urge the prosecutor not to prosecute those individuals or entities?

A  I think that -- I think there's kind of a line there. And so, you know, conversations about you need to be sure that, you know, there is a real case that is not politically motivated, that this isn't just harassment and pressure, so those conversations, you know, certainly took place.

Q  And were names used?

A  Yeah, probably.

Q  And entities?

A  I'm not -- no.

Q  Can you remember the names?

A  I think that the -- the head of NABU was -- there were a number of cases that looked like harassment cases to us that were opened up against him.

Q  And can you think of anybody else? Who's the head of NABU?

A  You know, I'm sorry, I'm blanking on his name right now.

Q  Can you think of anybody else, other than the head of NABU, that was -- that you urged not to prosecute?

A  I wouldn't say it like that.

Q  Okay. How would you say it?

A  I would say that when we had conversations, we would say that any prosecutions need to be done, you know, legally, by the law, not politically motivated.

Q  But then you indicated that actual names did come up from time to time?

A  Well, the only one I can recall is NABU, and I'm not even recalling that, but I will in a second.

Q  Is Sintac the right name?

A  Sytnyk.

Q  Sytnyk. Okay.

A  Thank you.

Q  Can you remember any other names?

A  No.

Q  But there were names?

A  No. I don't think so.

Q  So there weren't names?

A  I think we just discussed one person, Mr. Sytnyk.

Q  Okay. So it's a name, not names?

A  To the best of my recollection.

Q  And I guess what I'm getting to is, is it possible Lutsenko took that name as an example of somebody not to prosecute?

A  I can't really speak for his motivations or what was in his mind.

Q  Before the removal of Lutsenko's predecessor, Shokin, there was effort on behalf of the U.S. Government, including Vice President Biden, to have Shokin removed, correct?

A  Well, one thing, just to remind, as I said in my opening statement, which you now have, I was not present at that time, but I can tell you what I understand to be the case.

Q  Yes. Please do.

A  So Vice President Biden, the IMF, pretty much every -- every country that is present in Ukraine all felt that Mr. Shokin as prosecutor general was not doing his job.

Q  Which led to calls to oust him?

A  Yes.

Q  And the legislature has to remove him. Is that correct?

A  Yes, that's correct.

Q  And then that occurred.

A  Yes.

Q  And then Lutsenko comes on board.

A  Yes.

Q  And was he, in your experience -- because you're very knowledgeable about the region, so when I ask you in your opinion, you have a very informed opinion -- was Lutsenko better or worse than Shokin?

A  I mean, honestly, I don't know. I mean, I think they're cut from the same cloth.

Q  Equally bad?

A  I'm not sure that these comparisons are helpful.

Q  Okay. And there was also an issue with the special prosecutor, Kholodnitsky?

A  Uh-huh.

Q  Were there any -- any other beacons of hope in the prosecutorial world of Ukraine?

A  Well, it was kind of an unreformed office, shall we say. So I think -- I think some of the people, who I didn't actually personally know, but some of the people who came in in the early days after the Revolution of Dignity, were considered to be quite good. And I think some of them have been brought back again under -- under this new President, Zelensky. So, you know, I'm always hopeful about the possibility for change.

Q  There was never as much of a clamor to remove Lutsenko as there was Shokin. Is that fair to say?

A  Yeah, I think that's fair.

Q  And what do you account for that?

A  I would say that there was, I think, still a hope that one could work with Mr. Lutsenko. There was also the prospect of Presidential elections coming up, and as seemed likely by, you know, December, January, February, whatever the time was, that there would be a change of government. And I think we certainly hoped that Mr. Lutsenko would be replaced in the natural order of things, which is, in fact, what happened.

We also had more leverage before. I mean, this was not easy. President Poroshenko and Mr. Shokin go way back. In fact, I think they are godfathers to each other's children. So this was, you know, this was a big deal. But we had assistance, as did the IMF, that we could condition.

MR. GOLDMAN: Could I just make one point of clarification? You said President Poroshenko and Mr. Shokin go way back?


MR. GOLDMAN: Do you mean Shokin or Lutsenko?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Well, I think they probably all go way back. It's a small elite. But President Poroshenko and Shokin go way back, because my understanding is that they are each other's -- godparents for each other's children.


Q  What do you know about the investigation of Burisma?

A  Not very much. And, again, that happened before I arrived.

Q  Do you know when they were being investigated and what exactly for?

A  So was it -- actually, I think I'm more familiar with the case against Zlochevsky, the head of Burisma. Is that what you're talking about?

Q  Both.

A  Okay.

Q  Do you know if Burisma was under investigation separate from its leader?

A  I believe so. And I believe that -- and, again, I need to stress that this all happened before I arrived. But I believe that with Burisma, the -- as I understand it, again, mostly from media reports -- that the investigation was dormant by the time that Lutsenko came to be prosecutor general, and that -- but I also understand, you know, from things in Ukrainian media and people would sort of mention, that the investigation was never formally closed by Lutsenko, because it's, frankly, useful to keep that company hanging on a hook, right? And so -- so it was dormant, but it wasn't fully closed and done with.

Q  There was a -- press reports in the Ukraine that -shortly before you came back the end of March -- that the Ukrainian state prosecutor's office was reexamining issues related to Burisma. Do you have any familiarity with that?

A  Well, that question was asked earlier, and I don't actually remember that. So, no, I don't.

Q  Do you have any idea why the -- why Burisma -again, this is before your time, but just wondering if you have any idea why they would make an effort to put U.S. people on their board.

A  I mean, I don't know, but I can give you an opinion.


MR. ROBBINS: Is it more than a guess?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I mean, it's an opinion. It's a guess.

MR. MEADOWS: Yeah. I would think, Ambassador, it would be an informed opinion. Ambassador Volker was able to give us some of the same commentary. We would like to hear it from your perspective since he held you in very high regard.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I -- so just to be clear, I mean, I don't actually know, but I think that they probably did it for the same reason most companies put, you know, people with name recognition, experts, et cetera, on their boards, to increase prestige, to let people know that they are good companies, well valued, and so forth.


Q  Do you know if they sought out experts in corporate governance for their boards?

A  I'm not familiar with that. I don’t know.

Q  Or experts in fighting corruption for their boards?

A  I don't know.

Q  Or did they just pick names of, you know, prominent people?

A  I really don't know. I mean, I don't know how they went about selecting them.

Q  Did a lot of the Ukrainian companies do this? Is it a fairly widespread practice that sophisticated companies in Ukraine, you know, name U.S. officials to their board?

A  Well, I'm not sure they're officials.

Q  Or U.S. persons. Sorry.

A  So, yes. I think, you know, over time, this has -this has been happening. So DTEK, which is one of the largest companies in Ukraine, owned by a Ukrainian, has a number of internationally recognized people.

I had mentioned Victor Pinchuk earlier, who hosted Mayor Giuliani and other -- other people for his foundation. On his foundation are, you know, former officials from around the world, including Americans.

So, yeah, I mean, I think that people feel that this gives greater gravitas, shall we say, to their board, whether it's a foundation or whether it's a company.

Q  Do you think it has any effect? Do you think --

A  I don't know. You know, what do you mean by "effect"?

Q  Does it foster, you know, anti -- you know, an anticorruption environment? Does it -A Well, I mean, just to say I’m not sure that that's why people put, you know, luminaries on their board, to foster an anticorruption environment.

Q  Do you know if NABU encourages people to -encourages companies to put officials like this on a board, or U.S. persons, or AntAC?

A  There -- one of the ideas for good governance -- so this is separate from private corporations or private foundations, such as the YES Foundation that Pinchuk ran.

One of the things that I think started after the Revolution of Dignity was that the state monopolies, and there are many in Ukraine, that they would establish boards for those organizations.

Is that maybe what you're talking about?

Q  Uh-huh.

A  And so what the government did was they would run these open and transparent kind of competitions for who would be on those boards. And the idea was you get experts and you do get people who would, you know, foster an open environment and so forth.

So -- and, you know, to your point, I mean there were international experts on those boards, for the gas monopoly, Naftogaz, and others.

Q  And do you think that worked? Do you think that it helped?

A  I do think it -- you know, in -- with the public companies, the monopolies, yes, I do think it was helpful.

MR. CASTOR: And my time is just about up, but I wanted to turn to see if any of our Members had something quickly.

MR. ZELDIN: How much time do we have?

MS. LAX: Less than a minute.

MR. CASTOR: Oh. Sorry. So we're -- we'll --

MS. YOVANOVITCH: We're done?

MR. CASTOR: We'll take a break with our first hour.


MR. CASTOR: Thank you.

THE CHAIRMAN: Ambassador, would you like to take a brief lunch break?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Sure. I mean, I'm at your disposal, I'm ready to go.

THE CHAIRMAN: Why don't we resume at 2 o'clock?


THE CHAIRMAN: Give people a chance to grab a bite to eat. And so we'll resume at 2 o'clock.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Okay. Thank you.


[2:07 p.m.]

THE CHAIRMAN: Before I turn it back to Mr. Goldman, I wanted to just follow up on one of the questions that my colleagues in the minority asked.

They asked you, Ambassador, about what advice you had given Ukraine in terms of whether they should engage in politically motivated prosecutions or prosecutions that were not based on the law or facts, what in themselves would be corrupt.

And I think you said that you gave general guidance along those lines, that they shouldn't -- they should follow the rule of law and they shouldn't engage in political prosecutions. And you mentioned that one of the -- or the one person you mentioned in this context that was by specific name was the head of NABU.


THE CHAIRMAN: And then you were asked, well, could this have been the do not prosecute list that Lutsenko was referring to.

I just want to ask again, Lutsenko recanted that whole allegation, right?


THE CHAIRMAN: So when counsel for the minority asked you, well, could that have been what Lutsenko was referring to, Lutsenko himself has said it was nonsense.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yes, that is true.

THE CHAIRMAN: Mr. Goldman.

MR. GOLDMAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Q  We left off a little bit on the April 21st call between President Zelensky and President Trump right after President Zelensky won the election, and you said you got a general readout of the call afterwards. Who did you speak to to get that readout?

A  I don't recall. I don't recall. And when I say "general," I mean really general: It was a good call, they hit it off.

Q  Did you speak to any Ukrainian officials about the call?

A  I don’t recall, because, I mean, that happened on a Sunday night. On Wednesday night, I got the call to return to the United States. So there wasn't a lot of time in there.

Q  Okay. So let's move into that, then. It was just 3 days after that call that you got a call to go back to the States?

A  Yes.

Q  Who called you to order you to do that?

A  The director general of the State Department.

Q  Who's that?

A  Carol Perez.

Q  What did she say to you?

A  Well, in the first call, which happened at quarter of 10 in the evening Kyiv time, she said that she was giving me a heads-up, that things were going wrong, kind of off the -- off the track, and she wanted to give me a heads-up. She didn't know what was happening, but there was a lot of nervousness on the seventh floor and up the street.

Q  What did she mean by "up the street"?

A  The White House.

Q  Did you understand what she meant about nervousness?

A  No. And I asked her. I said, well, thanks for giving me a heads-up. What's the problem? Tell me what's going on. And she said she didn't know.

I asked her, well, is this, you know, about the allegations about me by Lutsenko -- and, of course, now it was also by Mayor Giuliani.

And she didn't seem to be aware of that, and she said, I don't know, I don't know anything about that.

And she said that she would try to get more information and she would call me back. Because I said, Okay. So we have this heads-up that there’s a problem, but what’s the next step? Because I don't know what the problem is.

And she said she would try to get more information and she would try to call me at midnight.

Q  Did she say whether anyone had asked her to call you to give you this heads-up?

A  I got that impression, but now I don't recall. I mean, that's kind of the impression I have now.

Q  And when you said by now Giuliani was also speaking out against you, do you mean that by that time you were aware that Giuliani was --

A  Uh-huh.

Q  -- make -- calling --

A  Yes.

Q  -- for your removal?

A  Yes.

Q  Who else were you aware of who was publicly calling for your removal?

A  Well, as I recounted earlier, there were -- you know, there was a lot in social media from various people, including Donald Trump, Jr. So, I mean, there was a lot out there.

Q  What about from the President himself? Were you aware of his feelings towards you at that point?

A  No, but he had posted some things. There were some tweets out there, not directly about me, but some tweets out there about, you know, Ukraine, concerns about Ukraine.

Q  And you obviously understood that -- well, I won't put words in your mouth.

Did you understand that if Donald Trump, Jr., is speaking and Rudy Giuliani is speaking, that they represented to some extent the President's views as well at that point?

A  I didn't know, but, you know, that was certainly an inference one could draw and --

Q  Well, would that inference -- go ahead.

A  And I would also add that I told you in my opening statement that I had been asked to extend. But then about, I would say, the week after the Hill article the State Department, Phil Reeker in this case, was saying, well, it's not going to be possible to extend you -- I mean, I obviously realized that as well -- and we'll have to talk about dates for your departure.

So there was already discussion of when I would go. But when I got the call from Carol, and I think that was the 24th of April, or I should say Ambassador Perez, she -- I had understood and Phil Reeker had understood that there was agreement at the State Department that I could stay on through July 2019, after the July Fourth party, which is our -- it's the biggest representational thing that we do in a host country, and that had been my original plan for departure. And I thought, well, we can just go back to plan A. And there seemed to have been agreement about that. And then I got the call from Ambassador Perez.

Q  Okay. I want to go through this step by step. But just going back to what your understanding was as the motivating factor for Ambassador Perez's call to you, to that point you had only received support from the State Department all the way up to the seventh floor. Is that right?

A  Yeah. I mean, they -- I mean, they took back the offer of an extension, but were working with me on, you know, what a good departure date would look like and so forth.

Q  And did you get the sense that the State Department had issues with your performance in any way?

A  Quite the opposite.

Q  So I think that's sort of what I'm getting at. So from the State Department's perspective, everyone on up to Secretary Pompeo supported the work that you were doing in Ukraine and had no problems with your performance, to your knowledge?

A  Yes. That is my understanding.

Q  Okay. And then you see on social media that Donald Trump, Jr., and Rudy Giuliani are calling for your ouster. Is that right?

A  Yes.

Q  And then Ambassador Perez calls you and says, just a heads-up. There's some nervousness, I think was your term.

A  Uh-huh.

Q  I mean, there don't seem to me to be too many conclusions, but I don't want to put any words in your mouth.

What did you think was driving this concern at that point?

A  Well, that's why I asked her, is this about, you know, the allegations against me that are out there. And she said she didn't know, but that she would try to find out and would try to call me back.

Q  So what happened when --

THE CHAIRMAN: Can I ask you one clarifying question?

My colleague asked, as far as you knew in the State Department, everyone was pleased with your performance, indeed, they wanted you to extend another year.


THE CHAIRMAN: And I think my colleague asked you, all the way up to the Secretary? But did you, in fact, know where the Secretary was in all of this?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I had understood that -- well, I’m not exactly sure who decides on extensions of this kind, but I had understood that there was a seventh floor blessing, if not the Secretary himself, those around him who are, you know, long-term colleagues and that he trusts and that can speak for him.

So I had understood that there was a blessing of that extension. But to answer your question, I don't really know.

THE CHAIRMAN: And did you ever find out when, you know, the allegations were being made or the attacks were being made by Donald Trump, Jr., or Rudy Giuliani, did you ever find out what the Secretary of State's position, whether the Secretary of State was going to defend you or not, apart from the refusal by the Secretary to issue a statement in your defense?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: What I was told by Phil Reeker was that the Secretary or perhaps somebody around him was going to place a call to Mr. Hannity on FOX News to say, you know, what is going on? I mean, do you have proof of these kinds of allegations or not? And if you have proof, you know, tell me, and if not, stop.

And I understand that that call was made. I don’t know whether it was the Secretary or somebody else in his inner circle. And for a time, you know, things kind of simmered down.

THE CHAIRMAN: I mean, does that seem extraordinary to you that the Secretary of State or some other high-ranking official would call a talk show host to figure out whether you should be retained as ambassador?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Well, I’m not sure that’s exactly what was being asked.

THE CHAIRMAN: Well, they were asking if -- what basis they -- was Hannity one of the people criticizing you?


THE CHAIRMAN: So some top administration official was going to him to find out what the basis of this FOX host was attacking you for?


THE CHAIRMAN: And did you ever get any readout on what the result of that conversation was?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: No, I didn't, although I was told that it did take place.

But what we thought we saw was, you know, as a result of the media monitoring, which I'm sure everybody does, what we thought we saw was that there -- it simmered down for a while.

THE CHAIRMAN: Until what point?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Well, there would be, you know, like, little blips and stuff. But I think when it took off was really after the elections, the 21st of April, the second round.

THE CHAIRMAN: And so you don't know who it was that reached out to Mr. Hannity, but at some point after that conversation, things settled until after the election?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: That's what it appeared to us. And I should add, to the best of my recollection.


Q  Do you recall when this conversation that the Secretary or someone close to him had with Sean Hannity was?

A  So the article, I think, was on the -- was on the 26th -- is that right? -- 26th or the 24th of April, the Hill article, that sort of --

Q  Of April or March?

A  Of March. Thank you. And so it would have been the following week.

Q  So soon after the Hill, and--

A  Yes.

Q  -- so it simmered down, you said, through the election?

A  That's what I seem to recall. There were -- you know, it was -- it was out there, but it seemed to be, you know, simmering rather than at a high peak.

Q  Do you know whether there was anyone else publicly advocating for your removal? You just added Sean Hannity. I just want to make sure we have the full universe of people that you recall.

A  Well, there were a lot of people opining about -about me and what should be done. I can't remember everything that everybody said, but there were a lot of people out there.

Q  Okay. So Sean Hannity, Donald Trump, Jr., and Rudy Giuliani. Did you have an understanding that these were all close advisers of the President?

A  Well, they appeared to be close to the President from, you know, far, far away.

Q  From Ukraine?

A  Yeah.

Q  Understood.

A  From my vantage point from far away, I should say.

Q  Did you ever learn about any public concerns expressed back in 2018 by Congressman Pete Sessions about your performance?

A  I learned about it in that article from The Hill by John Solomon.

Q  So you didn't know about it in realtime?

A  No.

Q  You had only heard about it --

A  No.

Q  -- in that article?

So you -- when there were discussions, I think you said, on the seventh floor -- well, let me take a step back.

When were you given the offer of an extension?

A  So the Undersecretary for Political Affairs, David Hale, was in Ukraine. He arrived the evening of the 5th, stayed a couple days. And at the end of that trip to Ukraine he said that, you know, with elections coming up and, I mean, he could see how complicated it was. At that time we thought parliamentary elections would be in October. Obviously it's always complicated to -- sorry -- it's always complicated to get another ambassador named and confirmed. It's a long, drawn-out process.

And so concerns about having Kyiv be empty at the top. And so he asked me to -- whether I would consider staying for another full year. I -- yeah.

Q  And you said the 5th. Is that -- what month?

A  Of March.

Q  5th of March.

A  Same day as --

Q  Around the time you gave the speech?

A  Yeah.

Q  And did you agree to do that?

A  Not initially. You know, it's a tough post. I mean, I loved my work there, I thought we did great work, but, you know, it was a tough post. But in the end, I did agree.

Q  Around when did you agree?

A  He asked me to call him, like, that following Monday or something -- or be in touch. I think I emailed him the following Monday.

Q  Now, you also just referenced a conversation you had with Phil Reeker shortly after the Hill articles came out? Is that right?

A  Uh-huh. Yeah.

Q  And what did he say to you about this potential extension?

A  Well, Phil was the person -- so David Hale broached this with me. And then Phil was the person who was kind of working it through the system with the personnel people, Director General Carol Perez, with whoever on the seventh floor needs to bless these decisions and so forth.

And my understanding was that it had been -- it had been approved and that, you know, then they were going to go forward for the formal paperwork.

Q  I guess I just want to understand, when you had the conversation you described with Phil Reeker where he said -- he indicated to you that you were not going to be able to stay for the full year --

A  Oh, yeah. That was --

Q  -- you went back to plan A?

A  Yeah.

Q  So that was after the Hill articles, right?

A  Well, the Hill article was at the end of March, and then there was a little bit of a pause in all of this. Then the second round of Presidential elections was the 21st of April. And then the 24th -- yeah -- the 24th of April was when I got the call from Ambassador Perez, and -- yeah.

So the conversation with Phil was shortly after -- you're right -- shortly after the -- about a week after the Hill article came out that probably --

Q  So this would be early April?

A  Yeah, very early April. Perhaps even the end of March.

Q  Why -- well, did Mr. Reeker explain you to why it would be impossible for you to stay for your year only 2 or 3 weeks after you had agreed to do it?

A  Not really. I mean, it was pretty clear why.

Q  And what was pretty clear? Can you explain?

A  Well, that this was -- you know, my presence at post was a sensitive issue for the administration.

Q  So he didn't explain to you, he just assumed that you understood?

A  Yeah.

Q  And why did you understand that it was -- had become a sensitive issue? Because of the article in The Hill?

A  Because of the article in The Hill, because of all of the attendant, you know, tweets and postings and interviews and talk shows and various other things, and the fact that, as we discussed earlier, the State Department did not feel that they could actually even issue, in the face of all of this, a full-throated kind of statement of support for me.

Q  And can you explain again why you understood that the State Department could not issue a statement of support?

A  What I was told is that there was concern that the rug would be pulled out from underneath the State Department if they put out something publicly.

[2:27 p.m.]


Q  By whom?

A  The President.

Q  And in what way would the rug be pulled out from under them?

A  You know, that perhaps there would be a tweet of disagreement or something else.

Q  Did you have an understanding that the State Department brass or the State Department executives understood that the President did not support you?

A  I mean, yeah, that seemed to be the conclusion.

Q  And did you understand why?

A  Well, again, I assumed that it was as a result of the partnership, if that's the right word, between Mr. Lutsenko and Mr. Giuliani.

Q  And then the relationship between Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Trump?

A  Yeah, I think that's a fair conclusion.

Q  So you said Ambassador Perez said she would get back to you at midnight on the night of April 24th. Did she call you then?

A  She called me about an hour later, so it's now 1 a.m. in the Ukraine.

Q  And what did she say to you then?

A  She said that there was a lot of concern for me, that I needed to be on the next plane home to Washington.

And I was like, what? What happened? And she said, I don't know, but this is about your security. You need to come home immediately. You need to come home on the next plane.

And I said, physical security? I mean, is there something going on here in the Ukraine? Because sometimes Washington has intel or something else that we don't necessarily know. And she said, no, I didn't get that impression, but you need to come back immediately.

And, I mean, I argued with her. I told her I thought it was really unfair that she was pulling me out of post without any explanation, I mean, really none, and so summarily.

Q  She didn't give you an explanation for why it had to be so soon?

A  She said it was for my security, that this was for my well-being, people were concerned.

Q  What did you understand that to mean?

A  I didn’t know because she didn't say, but my assumption was that, you know, something had happened, some conversations or something, and that, you know, now it was important that I had to leave immediately because -- I didn't really know.

Q  So what did you do next?

A  Well, I went home and I told, you know, my secretary, my staff assistant, and the number two at the embassy, the management officer, I asked them to come to my residence at 8 a.m. in the morning -- I, of course, had a full slate of meetings that day -- and to, you know, to start the wheels going in motion to buy me a ticket. I couldn't leave on the next -- I mean, there wasn't a next plane because it was 1 a.m. when I got this news, right? So the next plane was at 6 a.m. or something like that on Friday morning. To get tickets. To inform them what had happened. To sort of give advice and instruction.

I didn't know how long I would be in Washington. Carol couldn't tell me that. And I had asked -- I said, you know, well, this doesn't look good. I mean, I can see where this is going. So could you just leave me here for another week, I will pack out and I will go.

And she said, no, you have to be, you know, you have to leave immediately. This is for you. We're concerned about you. And I said, well, you will let me come back to pack out, and she couldn't even give me an answer on that.

Q  Did you speak to anybody else at the State Department about this directive?

A  Yeah.

MR. ROBBINS: Do you mean then or ever?


Q  No. Sorry. The day after you got the call and you were in the embassy trying to get everything organized, did you -- prior to flying back to D.C., I think that's the best way to put it -- did you speak to anybody else other than Ambassador Perez at the State Department about the request for you to come home?

A  I'm sure I did. I don't recall right now. And, actually, I wasn't really in the embassy that day because the embassy is a little bit outside of town. I mean, I kept my meeting schedule for that day.

Q  Okay. Before you flew home, did you have a better sense of why you were --

A  No.

Q  -- requested to come home?

A  No.

Q  What did you do when you arrived in D.C.?

A  Well, it was a Friday afternoon, and so I had the whole weekend to think about this. And my niece lives here, so I saw her, I saw friends.

Q  Who did you first meet at the State Department after arriving in Washington?

A  So that would be Monday morning. And there wasn't really any -- there weren't any meetings on Monday morning. At about 1 o'clock, I think it was, I met with Assistant Secretary Phil Reeker, who previewed the next meeting, which was with Deputy Secretary Sullivan, which took place at around 4 o'clock.

Q  What did Mr. Reeker say to you at that point?

A  Mr. Reeker said that I, you know, I would need to leave. I needed to leave as soon as possible. That apparently, as I stated in my statement, the President had been -- had wanted me to leave since July of 2018 and -- or the summer, I should say, the middle of the summer of 2018 -and that the Secretary had tried to protect me but was no longer able to do that.

Q  Who had concerns as of July of 2018?

A  President Trump.

Q  And was that the first that you had heard of that?

A  Yes.

Q  What did you say in response?

A  I was shocked.

Q  Did he explain why President Trump had concerns?

A  No. No. I think there was just a general assumption that it must have had to do with the information that Mr. Lutsenko provided to Mr. Giuliani. But we really didn't get into that because, you know, we, Phil and I had -or Ambassador Reeker and I had had previous discussions about this. And, yeah, there just didn't seem to be much point.

Q  Can you, without getting into all the details, can you summarize those previous discussions just so we understand what knowledge you had going into that meeting?

A  Well, most of the discussions with Ambassador Reeker, you know, first it was about extending me for a year. Then after the Hill article he wanted to -- he was talking to me about, you know, my departure plans.

Initially he had thought it would be good if I went to work for -- to be a political adviser to one of our four-star generals. He had just departed EUCOM, so General Scaparotti (ph) did not have a political adviser and he thought that maybe I could leave Ukraine early and go and incumber that position. And initially I was sort of thinking about that, and then I just didn't have the heart for it, frankly.

And so then -- then it became, well, when would you leave Ukraine? And then I thought we had -- I mean, I think we all thought that we had come to an agreement that I could leave right after the big representational event in July to honor our Independence Day.

Q  Okay. And just to be clear, in any of those conversations with Mr. Reeker, Ambassador Reeker, leading up to what I guess was the April 29th meeting on that Monday --

A  Uh-huh.

Q  -- had he indicated to you that the concerns about you had escalated all the way up to President Trump?

A  No, I don’t think -- no.

Q  So when you -- when he said that to you in that meeting, that was the first you had heard of that?

A  Yes.

Q  And in addition to any shock, did you say anything else to him? Did you ask why? Did you get an explanation as to why?

A  I'm sure I did ask why, and I’m sure, you know, I expressed my anger, I'm sure I did all those things, but now I can't really recall the conversation.

Q  Can you -- and then you then met with the Deputy Secretary?

A  Uh-huh.

Q  Can you describe that meeting for us? What did he say to you?

A  Yeah. So the Deputy Secretary said that, you know, he was sorry this was all happening, that the President had lost confidence, and I would need to depart my post. That, you know, he had -- you know, I said, what have I done wrong? And he said, you've done nothing wrong. And he said that he had had to speak to ambassadors who had been recalled for cause before and this was not that.

And he, you know, expressed concern for what I would do next, and, you know, kind of how I would -- you know, kind of my state of mind, shall we say.

And he also, I think, he repeated what Phil had already told me, which is that this was coming from President Trump, this was, you know, final, and that I -- that the reason they pulled me back is that they were worried that if I wasn't, you know, physically out of Ukraine, that there would be, you know, some sort of public either tweet or something else from the White House. And so this was to make sure that I would be treated with as much respect as possible.

He said that my departure date was up to me. If I wanted to keep the previously agreed upon date of, you know, after the July Fourth event, that would be okay, but he could not guarantee what would happen.

Q  What did you say to him?

A  Well, you know, I expressed my dismay and my disappointment. I asked him what this meant for our policy, what was the message that --

MR. GOLDMAN: Do you want to take a minute?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yeah, just a minute. I'm just going to exit it for 1 minute.

MR. GOLDMAN: Yeah, we can go off the record. Can we pause the time?

[Discussion off the record.]

MR. GOLDMAN: Back on the record, and start the clock. Ambassador Yovanovitch, we understand this is a difficult and emotional topic, and we thank you for your honest recollection and answers.

MR. ROBBINS: Is there a pending -- I just want to hear if is there a pending question that she had not finished answering or if you just want to ask a new one.

MR. GOLDMAN: I'll just ask a new one.


Q  I think where we were was I had asked you, you were explaining what your reaction to Deputy Secretary Sullivan was?

A  I was upset. And I, you know, I wanted an explanation because this is rather unusual. But he could not offer one beyond the fact that the President had made a decision. And it is the President's to make, as we know.

I did ask him though, you know, what does this mean for our foreign policy? What does it mean for our position on anticorruption? What message are we sending to the Ukrainians, to the world? How were, you know, I mean, beyond me, how were we going to explain this? And what are we going to say, you know, not only to the people at U.S. Embassy Kyiv, but more broadly to the State Department?

And I told him I thought that this was a dangerous precedent, that as far as I could tell, since I didn't have any other explanation, that private interests and people who don't like a particular American ambassador could combine to, you know, find somebody who was more suitable for their interests. That, you know, it should be the State Department, the President, who makes decisions about which ambassador. And, obviously, the President did make a decision, but I think influenced by some who are not trustworthy.

Q  Who are you referring to?

A  Mr. Lutsenko.

Q  You don't have any information that President Trump ever met with Mr. Lutsenko, though, do you?

A  There was a rumor in Kyiv that during the meeting between Mr. -- Mayor Giuliani and Mr. Lutsenko in January that the President got on the line.

Q  Did you ever verify whether that was true or not?

A  No.

Q  But your understanding is the information came from Lutsenko via intermediaries to the President?

A  Yes.

Q  And if this -- you asked what this would do to the anticorruption message. What do you mean by that?

A  Well, I felt that -- I felt that in the public discussion of this, in social media and in other media, they were portraying this as, you know, Lutsenko going after me because I had stymied what he wanted to do, and that I was, you know, upholding our policy about helping the Ukrainians transform their -- themselves so that it wouldn't be a system of corruption.

And if I were to leave as the symbol of that effort, I think it would send a message. And I wanted to know how the State Department was going -- was thinking about that, how they were going to manage that message in a way that would be least damaging to our interests.

Q  Now, you referenced the specific attacks on you. Were you also aware by this point of public statements encouraging Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden or some sort of collusion between Ukraine and the Democratic National Committee in 2016 by that point?

A  Yeah, I think I was probably aware of that at that point.

Q  For example, Rudy Giuliani on the morning of April 24th, went on "FOX and Friends," said, quote, "Keep your eye on Ukraine," unquote, and discussed both of those investigations. Were you aware of that?

A  Yes, I aware of that. And, actually, I do now recall that actually Minister Avakov also laid that out in February.

Q  Are you also aware that on the night of April 25th that President Trump went on Sean Hannity's show and discussed Ukraine?

A  Yes. He was asked a question about Russia and he answered by responding about Ukraine.

Q  And what was your reaction to that?

A  Well, you know, I mean, I was concerned about what this would all mean.

Q  In what way?

A  Well, obviously, for me personally, not to make it all about me, but for me personally. But also, what does this mean for our policy? Where are we going?

Q  And can you just briefly describe would it be beneficial -- well, I'll get to that in a minute.

So you understood in realtime as you were being recalled suddenly that there was a flurry of media activity in connection to these investigations in Ukraine. Is that right?

A  Yes.

Q  Now, did you have any understanding of the nature of these investigative theories? Did you know whether they were accurate or inaccurate or factual or had been investigated? Did you know anything about them by this point?

A  I mean, my understanding, again, from the press was that, you know, the allegation that there was Ukrainian interference in our elections in 2016, that it wasn't Russia, it was Ukraine, that that had been debunked long ago.

But, again, it wasn't the subject of my work. And so I -- again, because it’s so political, I mean, it really kind of crosses the line into what I feel is proper for a foreign service officer, you know, I didn't go digging into that.

Q  But were you aware that the Intelligence Community had uniformly concluded that Russia was responsible for the interference in the election?

A  Yes.

Q  And were you aware by that point that Robert Mueller, the special counsel, had issued a dozens-of-page indictment detailing in great detail the Russian interference in the election?

A  Yes.

Q  Would it benefit Russia if Ukraine were -- if the allegations that Ukraine was involved in the 2016 election were true?

A  I think so.

Q  How so?

A  Because, you know, I think most Americans believe that there shouldn't be meddling in our elections. And if Ukraine is the one that had been meddling in our elections, I think that the support that all of you have provided to Ukraine over the last almost 30 years, I don't know that -- I think people would ask themselves questions about that.

Q  Is there anything else about the meeting with Deputy Secretary Sullivan that you recall?

MR. ROBBINS: You mean the first meeting?


Q  The meeting on April 29th.

A  No, not right now.

Q  Did you meet with anybody else after you met with Deputy Secretary Sullivan while you were in Washington, D.C., about this matter?

A  Well, at his request I met with him again the following day, which I think --

Q  I'm sorry, when you say "him," Deputy Secretary Sullivan?

A  Yes, sorry. And, I mean, it was a relatively short meeting. I think he just wanted to make sure I was okay. And, you know, he was kind of trying to point me to the future on "So what do you think you would like to do next in the Foreign Service" type thing. So --

Q  Did you feel like the State Department supported you still at this point?

A  Yes. I mean, I think it was not a well-known story at that time, but I think that anybody who was aware of it was very supportive of me.

Q  And did you meet with Secretary Pompeo at all while you were in Washington?

A  No.

Q  Did you ever meet with him after that point?

A  No.

Q  Did you ever receive any communication from him?

A  No.

Q  Did you meet with any anybody else from the State Department on the 30th or around that time?

A  So maybe it was April or May 1st, the Wednesday of that week, I met with Carol Perez, who is the head of personnel, the Director General. She, you know -- so Deputy Secretary Sullivan had said, you know, help her, you know, find -- find employment basically.

And so Carol asked me what I would like to do next. And I asked whether it would be possible to be a fellow at Georgetown University. And that was arranged for me, and I'm very grateful.

Q  Just going back to Secretary Pompeo. Did you ever ask to meet with him or speak to him?

A  No. I asked to speak with the counselor, Ulrich Brechbuhl, who had been handling this matter.

Q  What do you mean by handling this matter?

A  Exactly what I said. I mean, he was -- he seemed to be the point person that Ambassador Reeker was talking to.

Q  Did you speak with Counselor Brechbuhl?

A  No.

Q  Why not?

A  He didn't accept the meeting request.

Q  What effect, if any, do you think that this abrupt recall has had on your career?

A  Well, I mean, I wasn't planning a long career afterwards. I mean, my plan A had been that I would come back after my tour, a normal tour in the Ukraine, and retire. So it's not like I was expecting an ambassadorship or anything else. So I don't think from a State Department point of view it has had any effect.

Q  Because you were able to land at Georgetown, that's been --

A  Yes.

Q  On May 14th, so this would have been about 2 weeks later, Rudy Giuliani told a Ukrainian journalist that you were recalled, quote, because you were part of the efforts against the President, unquote. Do you recall that statement?

A  I do

Q  How did you react to that?

A  You know, it was just more of the same. I mean, I had no idea what he was talking about.

Q  Did you ever badmouth President Trump in Ukraine?

A  No.

Q  Do you ever speak ill of U.S. policy in Ukraine?

A  No. You know, I mean, I was the chief spokesperson for our policy in Ukraine. And I actually felt that in the 3 years that I was there, partly because of my efforts, but also the interagency team, and President Trump's decision to provide lethal weapons to Ukraine, that our policy actually got stronger over the three last 3 years.

Q  You were very focused on anticorruption efforts in Ukraine. Is that right?

A  Uh-huh.

Q  What impact do you think --

A  Yes.

Q  -- it would have -- what impact do you think it had for someone acting as an agent of the President to be encouraging Ukraine to open investigations for U.S. political purposes? How did that impact the U.S. anticorruption message?

A  Well, I would say it's not -- could you rephrase the question or repeat the question?

Q  Sure. I was just asking that if Rudy Giuliani is promoting these investigations that are related to American politics --

A  Uh-huh.

Q  -- and you have testified here today about how part of the anticorruption message is that investigations in Ukraine should be conducted devoid of any political influence, how would that impact your message, your anticorruption message, if an agent of the President is promoting investigations related to political interests?

A  Well, that's what I was concerned about, and that’s what I asked the Deputy Secretary.

MR. GOLDMAN: Okay. I think our time is up.

THE CHAIRMAN: Let me ask you before we turn it over, and what was his response when you raised that concern?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Well, he said he’d have to think about that.

THE CHAIRMAN: I yield to minority.


Q  Where you aware of the President's deep-rooted skepticism about Ukraine's business environment?

A  Yes.

Q  And what did you know about that?

A  That he -- I mean, he shared that concern directly with President Poroshenko in their first meeting in the Oval Office.

Q  What else did you know about it? Was it a source of discussion at the embassy that the President was not confident in Ukraine's ability to move past their corruption issues?

MR. ROBBINS: So I should just say that we have been instructed by the State Department that conversations directly with the President of the United States are subject to a potential executive department-based privilege. I don't know exactly which one they would invoke if they were here, but I rather suspect that a direct communication, as your question is addressing, would elicit such an objection. It isn't an objection that we hold.


MR. ROBBINS: It's one that we have pledged to assert.

MR. CASTOR: Got it. I got it.


Q  The administration had concerns about corruption in Ukraine, correct?

A  We all did.

Q  And were there efforts --

A  We all did.

Q  -- you know, once President Zelensky was elected, were there efforts to convince the White House, convince the National Security Council, that Zelensky was a genuine reformer?

A  That really would have been after I left. So he was elected President on the 21st of April. I had the phone conversation with Carol Perez on Wednesday the 24th. I departed the Ukraine for the first time on the 26th of April.

On the 29th, I basically, even though I was still ambassador technically, I basically took myself out of all -- kind of all of these sorts of issues because I didn't feel it was proper, to tell you the truth.

And so I was in Washington for a couple weeks. I went back to Ukraine to pack out for a week. And the day that I departed Ukraine permanently was May 20th, which is the same day that President Zelensky was inaugurated. So I didn't -- I wasn't privy to whatever the conversation was.

Q  Can you testify to the difference the changes in aid to Ukraine with the new administration starting in 2017? The different initiatives, you know, as far as providing lethal weapons and --

A  Yeah. Well, I think that most of the assistance programs that we had, you know, continued, and due to the generosity of the Congress actually were increased. And so that was a really positive thing, I think, for Ukraine and for us.

In terms of lethal assistance, we all felt it was very significant that this administration made the decision to provide lethal weapons to Ukraine.

Q  Did you advocate for that?

A  Yes.

Q  And did you advocate for that prior to the new administration back in 2016?

A  Well, yeah.

Q  What was the hold up there? What was the issue preventing it?

A  So I arrived in Ukraine towards the end of August, August 22nd of 2016, and President Trump was elected that November, and then there was the inauguration in January.

So there wasn't -- there wasn't as much discussion about all those things. I mean, I certainly had a strong view that this would be a good thing. That was held by the interagency both in Ukraine and I think in Washington as well. But there were not, you know, just given the end of the administration, there was not sort of a big ongoing discussion about that issue at that time.

Q  Was it a heavy lift to change the policy in the new administration?

MR. ROBBINS: So, again, we have been given advice by the State Department that questions of internal policy discussions within the State Department are subject to some executive department-based --

MR. MEADOWS: But, counsel, with all due respect, this is not a personal conversation. This is policy that obviously affected Ukraine that we are all very well aware of. And so to suggest for her commenting on policy that has already been implemented that somehow violates some privilege, that just doesn't add up.

MR. ROBBINS: And I hope the Congressman will appreciate that I'm not making this objection, I'm just relaying --

MR. MEADOWS: What I'm saying is that objection in the obscure manner in which you're invoking it goes contrary to all the other testimony that she's been giving. You know, it's amazing, every hour you wake up, every other hour you wake up.

And so I think it's totally appropriate, the chairman, I believe, would agree, totally appropriate for her to give her personal professional opinion on Ukrainian policy.

THE CHAIRMAN: Let me just interject here.

The State Department has not provided counsel with any itemized list, as counsel requested, about what questions could be answered or could not. They chose not to give any guidance.

In light of that, it is the position of the chair that the question is appropriate and the witness should be permitted to answer it.

MR. MEADOWS: I thank the chairman.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Could you repeat the question?


Q  Basically trying to understand the difference in the Obama administration to the Trump administration in aid and support that was provided to Ukraine. You indicated -- you testified that you were in favor of lethal weapons. And I think I had asked, was it a heavy lift on your end or your allies to get the lethal weapons?

A  These are big decisions, and so properly there is a lot of discussion about it. And I can't compare, because I was not in those discussions in the Obama administration. But I think -- I'm trying to remember exactly when the President made the decision. But it was -- there was a long, a long lead up to it. I think it was a year and a half into the administration.

I also would say, these are big decisions, especially for a new administration.

Q  What was the rationale not to provide lethal weapons?

A  I think that some may have had concerns that it could be escalatory.

Q  But ultimately you felt that the lethal weapons were more important?

A  Are you asking for my opinion?

Q  Yes.

A  Yes. I felt that it was important, although it was also important -- I mean, I think, just to be clear, it's not like we were providing unlimited numbers of Javelins. We were providing a very set amount, and there are a lot fewer Javelins than there are Russian tanks.

So it was a symbolic message to Russia and also to the Ukrainians that we support Ukraine. And it was, I think, you know, every Russian tanker knew that those Javelins were coming to Ukraine -- or maybe were already in Ukraine -- and it gives them pause when they are given an order.

So I thought it was important that if this war became a tank war again, because it isn't right now, it was important that Ukraine have them at their disposal for that kind of massive onslaught. But its primary import was the symbolic message that it sent.

Q  Were you satisfied that the administration was doing what was necessary to support Ukraine?

A  In what respect?

Q  In, you know, helping them deter Russian aggression, helping them with foreign aid, foreign assistance?

A  Yeah.

Q  Was it enough?

A  I think that, you know, I was the ambassador to Ukraine, so you always want more, right? So I think on the nonmilitary side, we actually were sort of at capacity in terms of what the Ukrainian government, Ukrainian civil society could absorb.

I think on the other side, on the military security side, I think we were still exploring ways that we could provide additional assistance to Ukraine.

Q  But things were moving in the right direction. Is that a fair statement? Increasing?

A  Certainly in the interagency. And, yes, increasing.

Q  Were you encouraged by that?

A  Yes, I thought that was a positive.

Q  And so were you pleased with the direction the administration was heading with Ukraine policy?

A  On the official policy side everything seemed to be in order.

Q  And on the unofficial side?

A  Well, we had these other issues that were sending perhaps a contradictory message to the Ukrainians.

Q  But outside of the Lutsenko and the Giuliani?

A  Well, I have to say that it was, you know, people would ask me, are you being recalled?

Are you speaking for the President? Our country needs a representative, whether it's me or somebody else, that speaks for the administration.

Q  That didn't -- you mentioned earlier this morning that that didn't really take root until the fall of 2018. Is that fair? Or did it start happening earlier?

A  So --

Q  You had about 2 years, right, before the Lutsenko allegations really.

A  Yeah. So my understanding -- or one of the things I've heard, and maybe that's a rumor, is that the first meeting, we actually heard this from one of Mr. Lutsenko's deputies, that the first meeting between Mr. Lutsenko and Mayor Giuliani was actually in June of 2018. There was the Pete Sessions letter. There was, you know, as I now know, the President's concerns that started in the summer of 2018.

I think that, you know, since there seems to be a back channel, shall we say, between Ukrainian officials and American officials -- or American people -- I think that while I may not have been in the loop, I think others were.

Q  Backing up a little bit, what was Vice President Biden's role with Ukraine policy, to your knowledge?

A  He was --

Q  Did he have an official responsibility?

A  Well, he was the Vice President. And he was the one who sort of led the effort, an interagency effort on helping Ukraine after 2014, the Maidan (ph), pulling our assistance together, pulling our policy together. He was very active in terms of managing the relationship with President Poroshenko and with the prime minister.

Q  And you may have mentioned this when we were speaking before lunch, but when did the issues related to Burisma first get your attention? Was that as soon as you arrived in country?

A  Not really. I first became aware of it when I was being prepared for my Senate confirmation hearings. So I'm sure you're familiar with the concept of questions and answers and various other things.

And so there was one there about Burisma, and so, you know, that's when I first heard that word.

Q  Were there any other companies that were mentioned in connection with Burisma?

A  I don't recall.

Q  And was it in the general sense of corruption, there was a company bereft with corrupt?

A  The way the question was phrased in this model Q&A was, what can you tell us about Hunter Biden's, you know, being named to the board of Burisma?

Q  Once you arrived in country did the embassy staff brief you on issues relating to Burisma?

A  No, it was -- it was not -- I don't recall that I was briefed on that. But I was drinking from a fire hose when I arrived. I mean, there were a lot of things that were going on. And as we spoke before, Burisma and the Zlochevsky case was dormant. Not closed, but dormant.

[3:09 p.m.]


Q  Was it the general understanding that Burisma was a company Burisma was a company that suffered from allegations of corruption?

A  Yes.

Q  And it's -- the head of the company?

A  Mr. Zlochevsky?

Q  Yes, the former minister.

A  What about him?

Q  That he had at various times been under investigation.

A  Yes.

Q  And was that characteristic of other oligarchs in the Ukraine, or was that specific to him?

A  Well, it is characteristic that there are --

Q  Are they all under investigation? Do they all battle allegations of corruption or --

A  They all battle allegations of corruption. Some of them are investigated, some for cause, some because it's an easy way, as we discussed before, to put forward political pressure on your political opponents. So yeah.

Q  Did Burisma ever come up in your meetings with Lutsenko?

A  I don't believe so. I mean, to the best of my recollection, I don't think so.

Q  So subsequently, when Lutsenko raised issues of Burisma, that caught you by surprise?

A  Yeah.

Q  Did Lutsenko mention any other companies in his -- you know, in his allegation that --

A  I don't believe so.

Q  -- you know, he was given instruction not to investigate?

A  I don't believe so.

Q  Did anyone at the State Department -- when you were coming on board as the new ambassador, did anyone at the State Department brief you about this tricky issue, that Hunter Biden was on the board of this company and the company suffered from allegations of corruption, and provide you guidance?

A  Well, there was that Q&A that I mentioned.

Q  But once you became the ambassador, did you have any debriefings with the State Department that alerted you to this, what could be a tricky issue?

A  No. It was, as I mentioned, it just wasn't a front burner issue at the time.

Q  And did it ever become front burner?

A  Well, only when Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Lutsenko kind of raised it to what you see now, starting with that Hill interview.

Q  You talked about the Vice President, Vice President Biden's advocating for the removal of Shokin, among other institutions. The IMF was advocating for his removal, you mentioned. Did the -- did anyone ever formally call for Lutsenko's resignation in the same public way, whether it was the IMF or --

A  I don't believe so.

Q  Okay. And can you account for why that is? Is it because Lutsenko wasn't quite as bad as Shokin, or it just hadn't -- it hadn't reached the dramatic climax there?

A  Well, as I mentioned before, when you asked me this question, I think that, you know, we were hopeful in the beginning that we could have a really good working relationship with him. He had three goals that he wanted to pursue, and so, we were hopeful in the beginning, even though we weren't seeing progress.

And then, of course, it got closer to Presidential elections. It was pretty clear that Mr. Zelensky was going to win, which he did. And we were hopeful that he would replace Mr. Lutsenko, which he has done.

The other thing I would say is that, you know, as I said before, you know, it's -- these are -- to use your phrase, these are heavy lifts, and you need to make sure that the international community is speaking with one voice and you have to have a certain amount of leverage to do it, because Mr. Lutsenko was a close -- I mean, not without controversy, but he had a close working relationship with President Poroshenko.

Q  When you called for the removal of Kholodnitsky in March, could you -- and I know I asked you this this morning, and I apologize for asking you again, if you think I am, but could you just walk us through all the facts that you had that led to your decision to call for his removal, to the extent you can remember them.

Obviously, this is earlier this year, many months have elapsed, but if you could just walk us through the thought process there, I think that might be helpful.

A  Yeah. We were very concerned that there was a tape, which he acknowledged was genuine, and that everybody would understand once the circumstances were out, where he is coaching witnesses for how to avoid prosecution, et cetera, in anticorruption cases that, as I understood it, were in front of both NABU and his office.

That seemed to us -- not just to us but to the entire international community and any Ukrainian that was paying attention, to be beyond the pale. I mean, this is a man who was put in his position to fight corruption, and yet there he is on tape coaching witnesses how to obstruct justice.

And so there was a process that the Ukrainian Government went through. Mr. Lutsenko, in the end, made a decision that, you know, he was not going to remove Mr. Kholodnitsky. And I would say that it really undermined the credibility of the special anticorruption prosecutor when you have the guy who's there at the top not holding true to the mission of that office.

Q  Was there any blow-back to your call for removal?

A  Yes. There was -- there was a lot of criticism.

Q  On which different fronts?

A  Well, the -- Kholodnitsky himself, as you can imagine, was not happy with that. There were -- you know, there was other criticism in kind of pro-Poroshenko, pro-administration media and so forth.

Civil society, others who, you know, perhaps are more genuine in their desires to transform Ukraine, were very happy. So, you know, as always, in any controversy, there's two sides.

Q  And your decision to call for the removal, was that something that was the product of just people on -- you know, U.S. officials in country, or was that something you socialized with Washington before you did it?

A  I believe -- you know, I'm forgetting now, but I believe I socialized it with Washington. If I didn't, somebody else did.

Q  And was it more of a heads-up or is that something you need to get authorization for?

A  I think it was more of a heads-up.

Q  But nobody expressed any concerns?

A  No.

MR. CASTOR: I want to pivot to Mr. Zeldin.

Twenty-two minutes.

MR. ZELDIN: Ambassador, going back to page 6 of your opening statement this morning, we discussed the bullet starting with "as for events during my tenure in Ukraine." And there was a brief discussion to follow in question and answer with regards to which cases you did, in fact, end up asking the government to refrain from investigating or prosecuting, and the NABU case was the only specific case that was referenced in that Q&A this morning.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: And if I may just correct the record, that I think what I said is there was a discussion. I don't believe I have ever said, you know, don't prosecute this individual. But what I did say is that it's important to do these things according to the rule of law and not on a politically motivated basis.

MR. ZELDIN: Do you recall how many cases you discussed with Ukraine?


MR. ZELDIN: Was the NABU -- can you give us an estimate? I mean, are we talking about 5, 20, 50, 100?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Honestly, I don't know. And as I told your colleague, the -- most of the relationship with any of these law enforcement offices was not -- that's not what I did. There were others in the embassy, whether it was the FBI, whether it was other State Department officers, other agencies. They were the ones who handled those relationships.

MR. ZELDIN: But in addition to the NABU case, did you discuss any other individual cases with Ukraine?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yeah, probably.

MR. ZELDIN: And can you estimate? Are we talking about five or are we talking about 5,000? Can you give us some perspective as to how many individual cases you discussed with Ukraine?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Well, it certainly isn't 5,000. I wish there were that many cases on anticorruption in Ukraine. But honestly, I don't know, and I don't want to mislead you.

MR. ZELDIN: But the number is more than one, but you can't tell us anything beyond that?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yes, that is correct.

MR. ZELDIN: And when you would discuss individual cases with Ukraine, how would you reference the case in your conversation? Earlier, there was back-and-forth where you stated that there was -- you don't recall ever discussing an entity and you only recall discussing a name once. So how would you reference the case in your conversation with Ukraine if you weren't referencing it by entity or name?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Well, earlier, what we were specifically talking about was the allegations against me, that I was giving instructions not to prosecute, right? So when you asked the question, you were asking did we talk about cases. That's a different set of circumstances.

MR. ZELDIN: Okay. I'm asking how many cases, individual cases did you speak to Ukraine about? The only answer I've been able to get so far is that the answer is more than one. You can't recall ever referencing entities in that conversation, and you only recall referencing a name once. So I'm asking, in that conversation with Ukraine about individual cases, how did you reference the case if you weren't referring to entity or name?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I mean, I'm sorry, I don't -- I can't answer your question. I don't know.

MR. ZELDIN: Did you use case numbers? Did you -- was there code? How did you reference these individual -- how did you have a conversation with Ukraine about an individual case, not referencing name or entity?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I mean, I -- ask me again. I just don't know what you're trying to get at.

MR. ZELDIN: Okay. You stated that you spoke to Ukraine about individual cases of corruption. You stated that you spoke to them about more than one case, but you don't know how many cases. How did you engage in a conversation with Ukraine on -- how did you reference an individual case with Ukraine if you weren't referencing entity or name?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: So here’s the thing: I know that we spent a lot of today talking about anticorruption cases. That’s not the whole universe out there. So when I spoke to you about Mr. Sytnyk in that respect, I mean, that is what I recall in that sphere, but I know there were other areas. And how would we have referred to it? Certainly not by case number, I'm not in the weeds like that, but by somebody's name. But --

MR. ZELDIN: How many corruption cases -- aside from NABU, did you speak to Ukraine about other corruption cases?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Well, at this point, I only recall that -- you know, and in this context where you are asking me whether -- or one of you was asking me whether I told people not to prosecute, right? So, in that context, what I recall now is the conversation with regard to Mr. Sytnyk.

MR. ZELDIN: Okay. But just to clarify so that there's no misunderstanding, my question is, how many individual cases did you speak to Ukraine about related to corruption? Is your answer one, or is your answer more than one?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: You know, at this point, I can't recall anything else.

MR. ZELDIN: To clarify one other thing about your opening statement, turning to page 7, the next bullet after the one that we were just discussing, there's a sentence that said: I have heard the allegation in the media that I supposedly told the embassy team to ignore the President's orders, quote, "since he was going to be impeached." That allegation is false.

Just to clarify, so we understand the wording of your opening statement, when you say, "that allegation is false," is that specifically with regards to that quote, or are you saying that you never told the embassy team to ignore the President's orders?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Both. I never told anybody in the embassy or anyplace else to ignore the President's orders. That would be wrong.

MR. ZELDIN: That's why I'm asking the question, just so we're on the same page. Go ahead.

MR. ROBBINS: She hadn't finished her answer. Are you done?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yeah. I just I guess also wanted to say that I certainly never said that the President was going to be impeached, because I didn't believe that at the time, I mean, you know, when I was still in Ukraine.

MR. ZELDIN: Thank you. I wanted to understand what you were saying when you said the allegation is false, to make sure you weren't specifically just referring to your quote and you were, in fact, talking about --

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Thank you for clarifying.

MR. ZELDIN: Have you read the July 25th transcript of the call between President Trump and President Zelensky?


MR. ZELDIN: And did you read what President Zelensky had to say about you?


MR. ZELDIN: When did you first meet President Zelensky?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: In September of 2018.

MR. ZELDIN: And how would you characterize your relationship with President Zelensky?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I mean, I didn't meet him often enough to have, you know, kind of a relationship, but I thought that we were off to a good start. I met with him for over an hour on the 20th of April, the day before the final round of Presidential elections.

All of us thought that that was a really positive sign of, you know, Ukrainian -- the new administration's, because we were pretty sure he was going to win, interest in a strong relationship with the United States. And so I thought it was a pretty good relationship.

MR. ZELDIN: So President Zelensky, as you know, in the transcript didn't have some nice things to say about you. He referred to you as, quote, "a bad ambassador." This is going to be hard to hear, but in order to ask the question. Quote: Her attitude towards me was far from the best, as she admired the previous President and she was on his side. She would not accept me as a new President well enough.

Is there anything in your interactions with President Zelensky directly that you recall that would support that statement of President Zelensky?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: No. I was very surprised by that statement.

MR. ZELDIN: Do you know where President Zelensky formed his opinion about your loyalty to the prior ambassador, your attitude towards President Zelensky, calling you a bad ambassador? Do you know where President Zelensky got that from?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I have no idea.

MR. ZELDIN: And how would you characterize your relationship with Poroshenko?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Complicated.

MR. ZELDIN: Did you get along with him? Was it cordial, adversarial?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: It was cordial, but I think he believed that I was insufficiently supportive, that I -- I and the embassy talked too much about the things that still needed to be done without giving proper credit with the things that had been done and had been accomplished.

MR. ZELDIN: How would you characterize your relationship with former Vice President Biden?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I mean, I've met him, I don't know, a handful of times over, you know, the years that I've been in government service.

MR. ZELDIN: What was the closest that you've worked with Vice President Biden? What position? When? When did you have that opportunity to interact with him the most?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Probably when I was ambassador to Ukraine in the waning days of the Obama administration, where there -- I only met him once in that period of time in January of 2017, his last trip to Ukraine.

But there were phone calls between former Vice President Biden and the Prime Minister and the President, and so there would be preparatory calls to, you know, get him up to speed on the issues, and then we would often be on the line as well.

MR. ZELDIN: Earlier, you were asked about Burisma and Hunter Biden. Vice President Biden was the point man for relationships between the Obama administration and Ukraine. Were you aware at that time of Hunter Biden's role with Burisma?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yes. As I mentioned, I became aware during the Q&A in the prep for my testimony.

MR. ZELDIN: Were you aware of just how much money Hunter Biden was getting paid by Burisma?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: No, I wasn't aware of that.

MR. ZELDIN: Did you know that he was getting paid by Burisma?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I can't say that as a fact, but I assumed he was.

MR. ZELDIN: You have -- you now know that Hunter Biden was getting paid money from Burisma for his position?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yes, according to the news reports.

MR. ZELDIN: But while you were serving with Vice President Biden, you were not aware of, at any point, Hunter Biden being paid for that position?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Well, as I said, I assumed he was since it is, you know, corporate practice that you pay board members, but this was not, as we discussed earlier -- Burisma wasn't a big issue in the fall of 2018 -- 2016, when I arrived.

MR. ZELDIN: When you state that Burisma, the investigation was dormant, if I understand your testimony at the beginning of the day, you base that word from press reports that you read?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yeah, but I think there was also -- you know, I think there was other -- other information, and I don't recall exactly what. But the impression that I had was that it wasn't closed because it was convenient to -- it was a convenient lever to put pressure on Burisma or the owner of the company.

MR. ZELDIN: What's your source outside of press reports?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I don't recall.

MR. ZELDIN: Is it possible that you didn't -- I'm trying to understand, because -- I'm trying to understand your testimony, because earlier in the day you said that, based on press reports, your understanding was that it was dormant. You may have had additional information it was dormant, or you don't know?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yes. And all I can tell you is it was a long time ago and it just wasn't a big issue.

MR. ZELDIN: So I just want to understand your position. Obviously, you knew that Burisma was dormant, based on press reports. That was what you stated earlier.


MR. ZELDIN: But you're saying that you may have had other information, but you don't recall that now?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I may have had other information, but I don't recall how I had that impression that it was being used as a lever to turn the pressure on and off. Maybe that, too, came from the press, or maybe it was, you know, somebody who told me that. I just don't recall.

MR. ZELDIN: Are you aware of a May 4th, 2018, letter sent to Lutsenko from three Senate Democrats, Menendez, Leahy, and Durbin?


MR. ZELDIN: May 4th of 2018?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Can you refresh my memory?

MR. ZELDIN: May 4th, 2018, there was a letter sent to the prosecutor general from three Democratic Members of the United States Senate: Robert Menendez, Patrick Leahy, and Richard Durbin.

THE CHAIRMAN: Mr. Zeldin, can you show her the letter?

MR. ZELDIN: Yes, we can enter it into an exhibit if we want to make a copy if we want to pause the time.

THE CHAIRMAN: Do you have only the one copy?

MR. ZELDIN: I would be happy if there's a way to make a copy, we can formally enter it into as an exhibit.

So we'll come back to the question with regards to May 4, 2018. I'm going to turn it over to Mr. Jordan.

MR. JORDAN: Ambassador, so in your testimony on page 4, you talk about two wars, the war with Russia and, of course, the war on corruption, which we've talked a lot about today. I just want to make sure I got everything straight from the first hour with questioning from, I believe, Mr. Goldman and maybe Mr. Castor.

So Shokin and Poroshenko were good friends. You said they were godfather to each other's children.


MR. JORDAN: Right?


MR. JORDAN: And Mr. Shokin is a bad guy. Everyone, I think you said that pretty much the whole darn world wanted him fired. Is that right?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yes. And just to recall, that was before I arrived.

MR. JORDAN: But then the guy they replaced him with is also a friend of Mr. -- of the President, right?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I don't know if they're friends in the same way, but they've certainly, you know, been political allies for a great many years, on and off.

MR. JORDAN: I think you said in the first hour this morning, you said Mr. Lutsenko is cut from the same cloth as Mr. Shokin. Is that right?


MR. JORDAN: And you've indicated here several times that Mr. Lutsenko is not the kind of prosecutor we want when you're dealing with a war on corruption.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: That's certainly my opinion.

MR. JORDAN: In your testimony, your written testimony, you said that in oligarch-dominated Ukraine, where corruption is not just prevalent, it is the system -- so this is like this is as important as it gets. So the one bad guy goes, the other bad guy comes in, and Mr. Poroshenko is the guy responsible for both of these bad guys being the top guy to deal with corruption. Is that fair?


MR. JORDAN: Then, as Mr. Zeldin indicated --

THE CHAIRMAN: I'm sorry, can you just say yes or no?


MR. JORDAN: As Mr. Zeldin indicated -- oh, in your statement then on the same page, you said: In the 2019 Presidential election, you got this reformer coming along who has made ending corruption his number one priority. See that on page 4, middle of page 4?


MR. JORDAN: And that's referring to current President Zelensky. Is that right?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: That's correct.

MR. JORDAN: So this is like this is what you want, this is the guy. You got Poroshenko, who had Shokin, who’s bad, Lutsenko he replaced him with, who's just as bad, cut from the same cloth. And now you get a guy elected who is as good as it gets, right?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Well, let me just recast that, if possible, and if my counsel allows. So just as I don't believe Ukrainians should be interfering in our elections, I don't think Americans should be interfering in Ukrainian elections.

MR. JORDAN: I'm not asking that. I'm just saying -- I'm just looking at what you said. You said, this guy Zelensky's number one priority, what he ran the entire campaign on was ending corruption. Fair enough?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: That's what he said, but let me just tell you, assuming I can say this, what my advice was to the State Department, that we don't -- you know, we can’t really make -- there were many people very comfortable with Mr. Poroshenko. But we don't have either the pull nor should we try to indicate in any way that we have favorites, number one.

Number two, all three of the top candidates -- there was also Yuliya Timoshenko, who you probably know. All three of the top candidates are flawed in some way, as, you know, frankly, all of us are. But we could probably work with each of them. And that what we need to do in the preelectoral period is to -- somebody, I think you asked, you know, how do we do that outreach during campaigns and everything.

We need to keep those lines open so that whoever wins, we will be able to get in through the door and start advancing our -- continuing our advances, if it was Poroshenko, of the advance of U.S. interests, or start advancing those interests with new partners. So that's what was the most important thing. So we didn't have a dog in that fight. I just want to make that clear.

MR. JORDAN: I'm not asking that. I'm just saying, this guy comes along, runs a campaign base, on your testimony, your written testimony, that his number one focus was dealing with corruption, and he wins overwhelmingly. So he wins, he gets elected, and yet, when he's having a call with the President of the United States, he says he's glad you're being recalled.

And I'm wondering, like, how does that happen? The guy who is all about dealing with anticorruption and focused on that who wins a major overwhelming win, how does he form that judgment if that has been the entire focus and, as you say, an actual war that goes on in his country dealing with corruption?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I don't know. As I told you before, everybody before, I was very surprised, because I thought we had a good beginning to a good relationship.

MR. JORDAN: But I think you said to Mr. Goldman, you thought he was responding to what President Trump said to him when he said that you were bad news. Is that -- you said that earlier?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I think there's a certain element to that.

MR. JORDAN: But he didn't just -- it seems to me if he was responding that way, he would say, okay, Mr. President, I agree with you, but he didn't say that. He said, she admired the previous President and was on his side. And you just told me you don't do that.

So I'm wondering how the current President of Ukraine felt that you were on the side of Mr. Poroshenko and said this to the President of the United States.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I have no idea, because I think if you ask President Poroshenko, he would not agree with that statement.

THE CHAIRMAN: The time is expired. Would you like to take a little break?

MR. ROBBINS: Thank you.

THE CHAIRMAN: Why don't we take about a 5- or 10-minute break.


THE CHAIRMAN: Okay, let's go back on the record.

I just had a couple follow-up questions and then I want to pass it over to Mr. Mitchell.

My colleague in the minority asked you if official policy towards the Ukraine was, in your view, good policy, and I think you said that it was. Is that right?


THE CHAIRMAN: And, indeed, you were the spokesperson for that official policy?


THE CHAIRMAN: I think what you've described, though, is the problem wasn't the official policy. The problem was the unofficial or back channel being executed by Mr. Giuliani, his associates, and possibly others. Was that the issue?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yes. It complicated things.

THE CHAIRMAN: And it complicated things, not the least in part because the message you were advocating, as the representative of the United States, was, Ukraine, you should be fighting corruption; and here you had people that were potentially engaging in corruption, advocating through a back channel to the White House?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: So when we say "people," are we talking about Ukrainian people?

THE CHAIRMAN: Well, it may involve Ukrainian people, but if the policy of the United States is not to be engaging in political prosecutions or political investigations, and you have a lawyer for the President advocating with Ukrainian officials to do exactly that, to engage in political investigations and prosecutions, didn't that run directly contrary to U.S. policy and an anticorruption message?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I believe it did.

THE CHAIRMAN: I also wanted to ask you, Mr. Zeldin read you a portion of the call record in which he quoted the call record as saying, referring to you: Her attitude towards me was far from the best, as she admired the previous President, et cetera. Mr. Zeldin didn't read you the line immediately before that, so let me read that to you. President Zelensky says: It was great that you were the first one who told me that she was a bad ambassador, because I agree with you 100 percent.

Now, do you know whether President Zelensky is referring to the fact that the President had brought you up in the conversation first, or whether the President had brought you up in a prior conversation?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I don't know. I had assumed it was the April 21st phone call, that first phone call, because that, to my knowledge, is the only time -- other time that they talked. But you're right, I mean, maybe it could be earlier in this transcript.

THE CHAIRMAN: Do you know whether part of the reason you didn't get a readout of the first call may have involved the President bashing you in the first call?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: It's possible.

THE CHAIRMAN: Now, President Zelensky desperately wanted a meeting with the President at the White House, didn't he?


THE CHAIRMAN: And that kind of a meeting is important for a new President to show they have a relationship with the U.S. President?


THE CHAIRMAN: And this is at a time in which Ukraine is militarily dependent on the United States?


THE CHAIRMAN: Economically dependent on the United States?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: To a certain extent, yes.

THE CHAIRMAN: Diplomatically dependent on the United States?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: We are the most important partner for Ukraine.

THE CHAIRMAN: And because we're the most important partner for Ukraine, the President is the most important person in that partnership with the United States?


THE CHAIRMAN: So maintaining, establishing a relationship is really important to this new President Zelensky?


THE CHAIRMAN: And does President Zelensky, therefore, in this conversation, have an incentive to agree with the President?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yes, I think so.

THE CHAIRMAN: And if he believes that the President doesn't like the former U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine, does it make sense for him to express his agreement with the President?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yeah, absolutely, especially since I was already gone.

THE CHAIRMAN: And prior to this call, there had been an effort to get Ukraine to initiate two investigations that would be politically beneficial to the President, one involving the 2016 election and one involving the Bidens. Is that right?


THE CHAIRMAN: And those efforts you now can tell us involved Rudy Giuliani and some of his associates?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: So yes, I think that's true. Yes.

THE CHAIRMAN: My colleague will ask you more questions about this, but at the time that this was going on -- and most of our questions to you have been what you knew at the time that this was going on when you were the ambassador. You now know a lot more has come out since and text messages and whatnot.

Generally, what can you tell us now, looking back on what was going on that you only dimly understood, what can you tell us now that was going on in the run-up to this call?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I -- I mean, I don't have -- I mean, since I wasn't there, I mean, I left May 20th, and this -- of course, this phone call took place 2 months later. So I -- I can't actually really tell you beyond what I've seen of the texts back and forth and so forth that, you know, this investigation unearthed.

THE CHAIRMAN: Now, when you got recalled as ambassador, were you replaced as ambassador?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Bill Taylor, Ambassador Bill Taylor went out as Charge.

THE CHAIRMAN: And what was Ambassador Sondland's role?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Ambassador Sondland is, of course, our ambassador to the EU, and he took a special interest in Ukraine and Georgia I know. I don't know whether he took on other countries.

THE CHAIRMAN: And had he taken on that interest while you were still there or that happened after you left?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: It started while I was still there. And he came in February. He and Ambassador Volker sort of put together a delegation of EU important figures to come to Odessa, Ukraine, when we had a ship visit. And so, that was actually a really good initiative to show the U.S. and Europe together supporting Ukraine. This, as you will recall, was several months after the Russians seized three ships and the 21 sailors.

THE CHAIRMAN: Mr. Mitchell.


Q  Good afternoon.

A  Hi.

Q  You testified earlier that the first time you became aware of the May 2018 letter from then-Congressman Sessions was the following year in approximately late March of 2019, as a result of the John Solomon article in The Hill. Is that correct?

A  That is correct.

MR. HECK: Mr. Mitchell, please pull the mic closer.


Q  Are you aware of the reporting that Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman, who we've discussed earlier are associates of Mr. Giuliani, had dinner with Congressman Sessions the day that that letter was sent?

A  Well, I've become aware of reporting to that effect recently.

Q  And you testified earlier that you learned from, I believe, a deputy of Mr. Lutsenko that there were rumors that Mr. Giuliani had met with Mr. Lutsenko sometime in the summer of 2018. Is that correct?

A  Yes.

Q  That's around the same time that Congressman Sessions sent this letter about you?

A  Yes.

Q  You also testified earlier today about a meeting that you had, I believe, with Mr. Giuliani in approximately June of 2017. Is that right?

A  Uh-huh.

Q  In connection with the Victor Pinchuk Foundation?

A  Yes.

Q  And you indicated obviously, Mr. Giuliani was there and you were there?

A  Yes.

Q  Was Mr. Poroshenko there as well?

A  No.

[Majority Exhibit No. 1

was marked for identification.]


Q  I'm going to hand you a press release from the Pinchuk fund. I'm going to mark it as Majority Exhibit No. 1. Take your time reading it, ma'am, but I'm going to direct your attention to the very last paragraph.

A  [Witness reviewed the document.]

Q  So I'm going to direct your attention to the very last paragraph. This is a point that I think we can quickly dispatch with. It says: Besides giving the lecture, Rudy Giuliani met with the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, the Prime Minister, the Kyiv mayor, as well as Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Yuriy Lutsenko. Do you see that?

A  Yes, I do.

Q  Were you part of that meeting?

A  No.

Q  Were you aware that Mr. Giuliani met with Mr. Lutsenko in connection with this Victor Pinchuk Foundation?

A  I don't think I knew that.

Q  Have you seen the indictment against Mr. Parnas, Mr. Fruman, and others that was unsealed yesterday, I believe it was?

A  I haven't read it, but I've read about it.

[Majority Exhibit No. 2

was marked for identification.]


Q  I'm going to hand you Majority Exhibit No. 2, and, again, I'm going to direct you to particular spots in the indictment. I'm going to start the bottom of page 7. Paragraph 17, are you there?

A  Yes.

Q  It says in the middle: These contributions were made for the purpose of getting influence with politicians so as to advance their own personal financial interests and the political interests of Ukrainian Government officials.

A  I'm sorry, where are you reading?

Q  Page 7, paragraph 17.

A  Okay. I'm with you now.

MR. ROBBINS: You're starting in the middle of a sentence.

MR. MITCHELL: Correct.


Q  I'll start at the beginning: Much as with the contributions described above, these contributions were made for the purpose of gaining influence with politicians so as to advance their own personal financial interests and the political interests of Ukrainian Government officials, including at least one Ukrainian Government official with whom they were working.

Do you know who the Ukrainian Government officials with whom they were working?

A  No.

Q  On page 8, the following page, the paragraph in the middle, it's paragraph number 1. It says: At and around the same time Parnas and Fruman committed to raising those funds for Congressman 1, Parnas met with Congressman 1 and sought Congressman l's assistance in causing the U.S. Government to remove or recall the then U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, the ambassador. Do you understand that reference to be to you?

A  I do.

Q  And then the next sentence says: Parnas' efforts to remove the ambassador were conducted, at least in part, at the request of one or more Ukrainian Government officials.

Do you know who those one or more Ukrainian Government officials are?

A  No.

Q  What was your reaction when you first saw these allegations concerning you in this indictment?

A  Again, I mean, just feel shock.

Q  Do you have any reason to believe that the Ukrainian Government officials referenced here could involve Mr. Lutsenko?

A  I think that would be a good guess.

Q  Now, you testified earlier, with regard to Mr. Lutsenko, that the Burisma investigation was dormant -and I might have written this down incorrectly, but I want to make sure I have it correct -- because it was useful to have that hook I think is what I wrote down. Do I have that right?

A  Yes.

Q  What did you mean by that?

A  That because -- because Ukraine is not yet a rule of law country, prosecutions are used as leverage over people for -- to acquire funds, to get them to do certain things or whatever. And so, if you have a case that is not completely closed, it's always there as a way of keeping somebody, as I said before, on the hook. That was, you know, something that I had understood by that phrase "dormant."

Q  So it could keep Burisma on the hook?

A  Yes.

Q  It could keep anyone involved in Burisma on the hook?

A  Uh-huh.

Q  You have to answer yes or no.

A  Yes. Yes.

Q  And it could keep anyone interested in the investigation on the hook?

A  What do you mean by that?

Q  So if Mr. Lutsenko, as I believe you are suggesting -- correct me if I'm wrong -- had the Burisma investigation in his back pocket, and that he had the authority or the power to revive the investigation at will --

A  Yes.

Q  -- he could use that as a hook to, or as leverage against Burisma, correct?

A  Yes.

Q  Against people involved with Burisma --

A  Yes.

Q  -- or people who would actually want that investigation to go forward?

A  Uh-huh.

Q  Is that correct?

A  Yeah.

Q  You testified a little bit about the July 25th call.

A  Yes.

Q  And that was long after you had left --

A  Yes.

Q  -- the ambassadorship in Ukraine, and since you've been working at Georgetown. Is that correct?

A  Yes.

Q  When did you first learn of the contents of the July 25th call between President Trump and President Zelensky?

A  The day it was made public, like about 2 weeks ago, by the White House.

Q  What about the general subject matter of that call? Did you learn anything about what was discussed between the two Presidents from sources other than simple press reporting?

A  Yes. In passing, Deputy Assistant George Kent had mentioned that there was this phone call.

Q  And did Deputy Assistant George Kent say anything about what took place during that call?

A  He -- I mean, I'm trying to recall now exactly what he said, but he -- he did indicate that there had been a request by the President for assistance, as we now know, but my understanding of that conversation with Mr. Kent was that President Zelensky had not sort of agreed, and that he noted that, you know, it was the previous administration that was responsible for some of these things and that he was going to have his own prosecutor.

Q  And what was your reaction to Mr. Kent's recitation of the substance of this call?

A  My reaction was that, you know, to be frank, a little bit of dismay that President Trump had made those requests. And I was happy that President Zelensky had apparently not acceded.

Q  And, again, that was based on information that Mr. Kent had provided to you and what you believed to be the truth at the time?

A  Yes.

Q  And since then, you've read a copy of the rough transcript of that call?

A  Yes.

Q  And it turns out that Mr. Kent's recitation was inaccurate at least in one regard. Is that right?

A  Yeah. I mean, I think there's room for interpretation, but yeah, I now have a different view.

Q  And do you happen to have a copy of that call in front of you now?

A  Yes. This call, is that what you're talking about?

MR. GOLDMAN: Yes. It's marked as an exhibit.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: No, that's our copy.

MR. MITCHELL: Let’s go ahead and mark it.

MR. ROBBINS: You're not going to mark our copy.

MR. MITCHELL: No. We'll go ahead and mark it as exhibit No. 3.

[Majority Exhibit No. 3

was marked for identification.]


Q  Prior to me getting to the text of this call, what was Mr. Kent's reaction to the substance of the call when you had that initial discussion about it?

A  So just to clarify, he was not on the call so he was getting, you know, readouts, et cetera. I think he thought it was, you know, a relatively positive reaction from the Ukrainian President.

Q  So, in other words, the fact that President Zelensky did not accede to this request by President Trump was viewed positively by both you and Mr. Kent?

A  Yes.

Q  I'll take you to page 3 of the call. And President Trump at the bottom says: Good, because I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that's really unfair.

Do you know -- who do you believe President Trump was talking about when he said, you had a prosecutor who was very good and was shut down?

A  Well, I don't know, but I believe that it's Mr. Lutsenko.

Q  Mr. Lutsenko was still in office at the time of this call, correct?

A  Yes.

Q  But had Mr. -- excuse me, President Zelensky announced by the time of this call, July 25th, that Mr. Lutsenko was going to be replaced?

A  Yes, I believe he had.

Q  Do you have any opinion as to why you believe that President Trump would speak positively about Mr. Lutsenko?

A  I mean, the only thing I can conclude is that he had been told good things about Mr. Lutsenko.

Q  By people who had possibly met with Mr. Lutsenko?

A  Uh-huh. Yes.

Q  Like Mr. Giuliani?

A  Most likely.

Q  Do you know whether anyone in the State Department at the time had generally a positive view of Mr. Lutsenko?

A  Well, you know, it's hard to speak for everybody, but certainly the people that I knew did not have a good opinion of Mr. Lutsenko.

Q  For all the reasons that you testified about earlier?

A  Uh-huh.


MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yes. Excuse me.


Q  So despite President Trump's comments to President Zelensky, wouldn't Mr. Lutsenko's removal have been viewed positively by your colleagues at the Department of State?

A  Yes.

Q  On page 2, going back a page, at the bottom, the very bottom, last sentence, it says: We are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps. Specifically, we are almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense purposes. And that's President Zelensky, correct?

A  Yes.

Q  And you testified a little bit earlier about Javelins being U.S.-made anti-tank missiles. Is that right?

A  Yes.

Q  Made by Raytheon?

A  Yes.

Q  If you know, did the Ukrainians believe that it was important for them to have Javelins for their own defense?

A  Yes, they thought it was important.

Q  And were you involved, when you were ambassador to Ukraine, about any discussions involving providing Javelins to the United States -- or, excuse me, to Ukraine?

A  Yes.

Q  And I believe you testified earlier that you were supportive of providing those. Is that correct?

A  Yes.

Q  Because it was not only in Ukraine's best interests, but it was also in the best interests of the United States as well for Ukrainians to have these anti-tank missiles. Is that correct?

A  I thought it strengthened the bilateral relationship and sent a powerful signal of our support for Ukraine.

Q  Then immediately after President Zelensky mentions the Javelins, on the top of page 3, President Trump mentions CrowdStrike, and then he also says, The server, they say Ukraine has it.

A  Yeah.

Q  Do you have any understanding of what the President was talking about there?

A  Well, I didn't at the time that I first read this summary, but obviously, there has been explanation in the news.

Q  And what's your understanding?

A  Well, that the server that was used to hack the DNC was somehow in Ukraine or moved to Ukraine, controlled by the Ukrainians. The Ukrainians then put out some sort of disinformation that it was Russia. And that this is what the President is referring to that it's important to get to the bottom of it.

Q  In that same paragraph he continues, and I'm not starting at the beginning of the sentence, but he mentions Robert Mueller and he says: They say a lot of it started with Ukraine. Whatever you can do, it's very important that you do it if that’s possible. Do you see that?

A  Yes.

Q  Do you have any understanding of what the President is referring to there?

A  I think it's the belief that Ukraine was behind interference in our 2016 elections.

Q  And then President Trump continues at the top of page 4, and he mentions: The other thing, there's a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that. So whatever you can do with the Attorney General would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution, so if you can look into it. It sounds horrible to me. Do you see that?

A  Yes.

Q  And you testified earlier that your understanding here is that the President, President Trump, was encouraging President Zelensky to conduct an investigation involving Hunter Biden. Is that correct?

A  That's how I understood it.

Q  And what was your reaction when you saw this transcript for the first time, and particularly, these requests that we just went through by President Trump?

A  Well, I was surprised and dismayed.

Q  And in your experience, do U.S. Presidents typically ask foreign governments to conduct particular investigations like the ones that are requested here, or are they just general requests, such as fighting corruption, for example?

A  I think generally -- generally, there's preparation for phone calls and there are talking points that are prepared for the principal. And obviously, it's up to the principal whether they choose to, you know, keep it general, keep it more specific, whatever the case might be. But it's usually vetted and it's usually requests that would be in our national security interests, right?

[4:26 p.m.]

MR. MITCHELL: As opposed to the President's personal political interests?


MR. MITCHELL: Which is what was happening on this call.

Is that correct?

MR. ROBBINS: Again, she was not present for this call. She was not the ambassador during this call. All she can do is interpret it as a reader after the fact, and I don't really think this is within the compass of her expertise.


Q  Well, based on your decades of experience, Ambassador, did you find this call and these requests to be outside of the norm?

A  Usually specific requests on prosecutions and investigations goes through the Department of Justice through our MLAT process. That's the mutual legal assistance treaty.

Q  Is it your understanding that that’s what happened here?

A  Well, as far as -- as far as I know, no.

Q  Also on page 4, at the top, President Trump said, "The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news, so I just want to let you know that."

Do you see that?

A  Yes.

Q  What was your reaction when you saw that?

A  Again, I hate to be repetitive, but I was shocked. I mean, I was very surprised that President Trump would -- first of all, that I would feature repeatedly in a Presidential phone call, but secondly, that the President would speak about me or any ambassador in that way to a foreign counterpart.

Q  At the bottom of that same page, President Trump says, "Well, she's going to go through some things."

What did you understand that to mean?

A  I didn't know what it meant. I was very concerned. I still am.

Q  Did you feel threatened?

A  Yes.

Q  Did you feel that you might be retaliated against?

A  You know, there's a universe of what it could mean. I don't know.

Q  Well, what did you interpret it to be?

A  Maybe. I was wondering -- you know, soon after this transcript came out there was the news that the IG brought to this committee, all sorts of documentation, I guess, about me that had been transferred to the FBI.

You know, I was wondering, is there an active investigation against me in the FBI? I don't know. I mean, I just simply don't know what this could mean, but it does not leave me in a comfortable position.

Q  Are you concerned about your employment?

A  Yes.

Q  Are you concerned about your pension?

A  Yes.

Q  Do you have concerns about your personal safety?

A  So far, no.

Q  But you hesitate in saying, "So far, no," or you condition that on what might happen in the future. So what --

A  Well, I would say a number of my friends are very concerned.

Q  You talked about earlier that you spoke to Mr. Kent prior to the release of this transcript. Have you spoken with anybody at the Department of State after the release of this transcript about this transcript?

A  Yes, but not anybody who is, like, working on these issues. So I have friends at the State Department who are not necessarily, you know, focused on these issues. So, yes, but not in a work context, if that's what you're asking.

Q  So you didn't speak to Mr. Kent, for example?

A  [Nonverbal response.]

Q  I'm sorry.

A  Oh, no, I did not.

Q  What about any Ukrainian officials that you may still be in contact with? Have you had an opportunity to talk to them about this call after it was released?

A  No. I mean, I have talked to Ukrainians, but not about this.

Q  When you read this call transcript, did you raise any concerns about the transcript through any sort of official channels with the Department of State?

A  No.

Q  And did anyone at the Department of State reach out to you about their concerns concerning this call after the transcript was released?

A  Yes.

Q  Other than the friends who don't work on these issues?

A  Yes.

Q  And who was that?

A  Mike McKinley.

Q  I'm sorry?

A  Mike McKinley.

Q  What was your conversation with Mr. McKinley about?

A  He wanted to see how I was doing, and he was concerned that there had been no outreach to me.

Q  And what --

A  I should also -- oh, yeah. He wanted to know how I was doing and he was concerned that there had been no outreach and no kind of public support from the Department.

I also wanted to say that that's from kind of a senior level. The European Bureau did have a deputy director of an office, of the Ukraine office, reach out to me. The deputy director of the Ukraine office was also instructed to reach out to me.

Q  Was also instructed to reach out to you?

A  Uh-huh.

Q  And what's the name of that individual?

A  Brad Freden.

Q  And who instructed Mr. Freden to reach out to you?

A  The principal deputy assistant secretary for EUR, so Phil Reeker's deputy.

Q  And can you just describe generally that conversation that you had with Mr. Freden?

A  Yeah. I mean, he called to see how I was doing -- you know, obviously we had worked very closely together before, when I was in Ukraine -- and said that, you know, everybody was concerned and wanted to see how I was doing and did I need anything.

Q  And did he have any sort of reaction about the call itself or was he just -- was he just reaching out to see how you were doing?

A  He was reaching out to see how I was doing.

Q  What about the conversation with Mr. McKinley?

A  He also wanted to see how I was doing, wanted to know, you know, kind of what communication with the Department had been like.

Q  Did you call -- did you discuss the contents of the call with Mr. McKinley?

A  I think, you know, if we did, it doesn't -- it doesn't come back to me. I mean, I think it was the meta of, you know, everything else that's going on.

Q  Have you spoken to Mr. McKinley about his resignation?

A  He called me before it became public to let me know.

Q  Other than just notifying you that this was going to happen, did he talk to you about why he was resigning?

A  Yes. He said that he was concerned about how the Department was handling, you know, this cluster of issues.

Q  Can you elaborate further, please?

A  I think he felt that the Department should stand by its officers.

Q  And was he referring to you in that regard?

A  Yes.

Q  Was he referring to others as well?

A  I think perhaps George Kent as well. And for all I know, there may have been others as well.

Q  Can you explain why he was referring to George Kent?

A  Well, he's also been asked to come and testify.

Q  All right. So Mr. Kent has been asked to testify, and Mr. McKinley indicated that he was disappointed that the Department was not standing behind its employees. Is that correct?

A  Yes.

Q  Okay. So did he explain to you why he believed that the Department was not standing behind Mr. Kent?

A  He did. He noted that there had been a difficult conversation with the State Department lawyers and that George had shared that with him.

Q  A difficult conversation between the State Department lawyers and?

A  George Kent.

Q  And Mr. Kent. Okay. About coming to testify?

A  I think it was about the response to the subpoena for documents. I think that was the issue where there was a disagreement.

Q  What did Mr. McKinley say in that regard?

A  That he was concerned about the way George had been treated.

Q  But did he explain how George had been treated?

A  He said that there had been an argument and that he was going to, you know, share this further up, is what he said -- I don't know what "up" means or who that means -- and that -- because he didn't feet that ostracizing employees and bullying employees was the appropriate reaction from the Department.

Q  What was the argument?

A  I don't exactly know, but I do know that it had to do with the subpoena for documents.

Q  So Mr. McKinley didn't describe to you exactly the nature of the document -- or excuse me, the nature of the argument, simply that it was about the documents?

A  Yeah. And that George and at least one lawyer, perhaps more, had had a disagreement about that.

Q  Okay. And just to be clear, when we say "the documents" and you said disagreement about that, what we're talking about is a production of documents in response to a congressional request. Is that right?

A  Yes, I believe that's correct.

Q  And at the time -- when did you have this conversation with Mr. McKinley?

A  Well, it was the Sunday after -- actually, I think I'm conflating two conversations now.

I think he first just reached out to me, you know, as a human being, basically. And then I think he called me later, perhaps sometime midweek last week, maybe, to just share the information and ask me whether -- you know, how I was being treated.

Q  Okay. It was during this more recent conversation that you discussed this disagreement about the production of documents?

A  Right, right.

Q  So that would have been in response to a congressional subpoena. Is that correct?

A  Yes.

Q  And do you know whether the disagreement surrounded on whether the Department of State should produce documents in response to the subpoena?

A  Actually, I don't know.

Q  Do you know whether Kent was arguing for the production of documents?

A  I can't tell you. I don't know.

Q  Do you know whether the argument was at all related to whether Mr. Kent should come and testify before this committee?

A  He -- Mike didn't say that, so I don't know.

THE CHAIRMAN: If I can just interject with a question. Are you aware of any specific documents for which there was a concern that they may be provided to the committee?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: No. I have been instructed by my lawyers --

MR. ROBBINS: Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah.


THE CHAIRMAN: Any -- anything --

MR. ROBBINS: That's only one time an hour that I wake up.

THE CHAIRMAN: Any time a witness --

MR. ROBBINS: That's the moment.

MR. MEADOWS: Let the record reflect there was one time you woke up for the other side.

THE CHAIRMAN: I'll yield back to Mr. Mitchell.


Q  Without divulging any communications that you may have had with your attorney --

A  Okay. Yeah.

Q  -- have you had any disagreements with the Department of State about any production of documents concerning you?

A  No.

Q  All right.

A  But I should also say, I haven't had --


MS. YOVANOVITCH: Okay. All right.

MR. MITCHELL: Were you about to say that you have not had any conversations with the Department of State about these matters?

MR. ROBBINS: Her lawyers have done all the talking.


Q  I believe you said that -- I believe you used the word "bullying." Is that right?

A  Yes.

Q  What did you mean by that?

A  Well, it wasn't my word. It's what -- it's what Mike said.

Q  And in the context of the way in which Mr. McKinley used the word "bullying," what was your understanding of that term?

A  My understanding was that in this dispute, whatever it was between L, the legal people and Mr. Kent, that the lawyers bullied George. That was my understanding, but he didn't go into the details and I don't know what form that would have taken.

Q  All right. Did Mr. McKinley mention any other individuals from the Department of State who may have been involved in this dispute regarding the production of documents?

A  I can't recall whether he named anybody.

Q  Do you recall whether Mr. McKinley mentioned Secretary Pompeo during the course of this call?

A  Not -- not that I recall. I mean, no, I don't think he did.

Q  And you said that Mr. McKinley said that the Department is not supporting the employees. What did you understand that to mean?

A  Well, I think, you know, as we had discussed earlier, that there are all sorts of attacks and allegations out there, and the Department is not saying anything about it. That's very unusual if, in fact, there is no cause for my removal.

MR. MITCHELL: I think my time is up.

THE CHAIRMAN: And just to let Members know, we are going to turn the air back on. It's feast or famine here, and we're -- my staff tells me it started to smell like a locker room in here.

So we'll turn it over to the minority and we'll turn the air back on.

Mr. CASTOR: Mr. Jordan.

MR. JORDAN: Ambassador, last hour with Mr. Mitchell, you mentioned -- you were talking some about your conversation with George Kent.

What's George Kent's title again at the State Department?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the European Bureau.

MR. JORDAN: Okay. And you'd dealt with him before?


MR. JORDAN. Okay. And you officially left your duties in the Ukraine?


MR. JORDAN. May 20th. And then when were you hired at Georgetown for the teaching position?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I took home leave, and I started on I think it was July 25th.

MR. JORDAN. July 25th. Okay. And Mr. -- yeah. That's interesting.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I hadn't actually made that connection.

MR. JORDAN. Mr. Mitchell said you talked to Mr. Kent about the call that President Trump had with President Zelensky. Is that right?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yes, uh-huh.

MR. JORDAN. And can you give me the date of that conversation you had?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: No. I mean, some time after that.

MR. JORDAN. Some time after what?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: After the call.

MR. JORDAN: Okay. And some time before September 25th?


MR. JORDAN: Was it in September? Was it in August? Was it in July?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I don't recall exactly, but it was probably some -- well, it might even have been in September.

I would say probably August, but I also know that they were on vacation, so maybe it was even in September.

MR. JORDAN. So you got a readout of what transpired -- you were not on the call.


MR. JORDAN. Right? Mr. Kent was not on the call?


MR. JORDAN. But you got a readout from what happened on the call prior to any of us in the public knowing about the contents of the call between President Trump and President Zelensky?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I think readout is a, you know, a big term.

MR. JORDAN. And you --

MS. YOVANOVITCH: He shared with me some -- some information about it.

MR. JORDAN. And you think that was in August or early September?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: [Nonverbal response.]

MR. JORDAN. So weeks before the -- September 25th, the date the rest of us got to see what was in that --


MR. JORDAN: -- and got the transcript and it was public. So you got that information weeks before?


MR. JORDAN. Why did you get that information? Did you have any other responsibilities with -- continuing responsibilities with Ukraine and your former position there?


MR. JORDAN: Why would Mr. Kent share that with you?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I think he knows that I still care about the bilateral relationship and I'm still interested.

MR. JORDAN. Is that normal?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yeah. I mean, I think that -- that there are conversations about, you know, all sorts of things that take place.

MR. JORDAN. I guess what I'm asking is you got a call between two heads of state. You have certain staff, I assume NSC staff, some State Department staff, potentially Justice Department, I don't know who's all on that call, but it's probably not something that should be shared and probably not common knowledge. And yet the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State shares it with someone who is no longer involved with Ukraine, who's teaching a course at Georgetown. And I'm just wondering, is that -- has that ever happened before, to your knowledge?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I'm sure it has.

MR. JORDAN. Really?


MR. JORDAN. People would just share the contents of two heads of states, the President of the United States' call with someone who's not working in that particular area?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I -- I mean, you're asking me my opinion.


MS. YOVANOVITCH: So I'm sharing my opinion that I'm sure something like that has happened before.

MR. JORDAN: Did anyone else talk to you about the contents of the call between President Trump and President Zelensky prior to September 25th when it was made public?


MR. JORDAN. Did Mr. Kent say that he had shared this information with anyone else prior to when the rest of the country got to see it?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: No. I mean, I don't think he said that.


MR. CASTOR: Have you talked to anybody else about your testimony?

MR. ROBBINS: I'm sorry. Could I hear that question again?

MR. CASTOR: Have you talked to anybody else at the State Department since you've been invited to testify about some of the facts here?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: No. But I was subpoenaed to testify.

MR. JORDAN. Hey, Steve, just give me one second. Just a quick follow. I apologize, Steve.

That call is classified? The call between President Trump and President Zelensky, do you know if it was unclassified at the time that he shared information about the contents of the call?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I don't know.



Q  Other than with your lawyer, who have you had discussions with about your testimony today?

A  My brother. My brother has come up --

Q  And your family members. I'm sorry. I don't want to ask you about discussions with your family.

A  Yes. I have not discussed my testimony with anybody.

Q  Okay. So since you've been invited to testify, or subpoenaed -- initially it was a voluntary invite and then it turned into a subpoena -- you haven't had any discussions with the key players?

A  No.

MR. CASTOR: I want to mark as exhibit -- are we up to 4?


MR. CASTOR: And we don't need to do majority, minority? We just call it No. 4?

MR. GOLDMAN: We're all friends.

MR. ROBBINS: Sorry. Could we have just one moment?

Mr. CASTOR: Sure.

[Discussion off the record.]

[Majority Exhibit No. 4

was marked for identification.]

MR. ROBBINS: I have a -- for minority counsel.


MR. ROBBINS: The witness would like to expand on a prior answer --

Mr. CASTOR: Of course.

MR. ROBBINS: -- that she gave a moment ago.

Mr. CASTOR: Please, please. At any time, feel free to do that. There's nothing wrong with --


So you had asked me about discussions with State Department lawyers, and I answered that I wasn't having any conversations with State Department lawyers.

But I've been reminded that in August one of the staffers reached out to me on my personal email, and I alerted the State Department about that, the request to, you know, come and talk to the committee.

And so subsequently, and I think it was the week before Labor Day, I had a telephone conversation with Cliff Johnson, words redacted                  from the State Department Legal Affairs office, as well as words redacted                          from the Legislative office.

So just to be sure that I'm absolutely factual.


Q  We've marked Exhibit 4. This is a letter. I'll give it to you first.

A  Thank you.

Q  This is the letter we are referring to in the last round with Mr. Zeldin. I'll ask some questions and then I'll ask Mr. Zeldin if he has any additional.

This is the letter to Lutsenko from Senators Menendez, Durbin, and Leahy, dated May 4th, 2018?

A  Yes.

Q  Do you need a little bit of time to look at it or -- are you familiar with this letter? Is this the first time you've seen it?

A  I don't think I've seen it before.

Q  But this was during your tenure as the ambassador?

A  Yes. Yeah, but Congress doesn't always and doesn’t have to share correspondence with foreign governments with us.

Q  Of course. I’m just asking if you've seen it or if you know of anybody at the embassy that was aware of this issue.

A  I -- you know, I just don't recall ever having seen this before.

Q  When senators, especially senators involved with the committees of jurisdiction, transmit letters, is that ordinarily something that gets called to the embassy's attention?

A  It just depends.

Q  Or does it happen so frequently that it's not necessarily an issue?

A  I would say it just depends.

Q  Okay. And so you had no advance notice this letter was coming? Nobody at the -- on any of the Senate staffs communicated with the embassy, to your knowledge?

A  I don't believe so.

Q  And do you know if anybody at Lutsenko's office communicated with the embassy that they received this letter? Do you know how they handled this letter?

A  I don't know that Mr. Lutsenko or anybody in his office communicated with us about this, and I don't know whether they responded, or any of that.

Q  Is there anything else about this communication, about this set of facts, that you can share with us that you do remember, whether it was at the time or subsequently?

A  I mean, do you want to ask me a more specific question?

Q  I'm just asking if --

A  Yeah.

Q  -- if you can recall anything else about this letter, three senators, I believe they're all on the Foreign Relations Committee, writing to express great concern about reports that Lutsenko's office has taken steps to impede cooperation with the Mueller probe.

A  Uh-huh. Yeah.

Q  So the question is, can you recall any additional set of facts about this particular letter?

A  No. No, I can't.

Q  And do you have any facts about the Mueller probe and officials in Ukraine cooperating or not cooperating with the Mueller probe outside of this letter?

A  No.

Q  Did you know it was an issue or an alleged issue?

A  No, I didn't. But, you know, before I was saying that we have a mutual legal assistance treaty with Ukraine. And so when there are matters, you know, that appropriately would be taken up by DOJ or the FBI or something like that, they go through those channels.

And they don't always, depending on what the issue is, whether it's either so insignificant or whether it's, you know, compartmentalized and very closely held, they don't always share with us those things.

I'm assuming -- well, yeah. So I'm not aware.

Mr. CASTOR: Mr. Zeldin, do you have any additional follow-up on this one?

MR. ZELDIN: Ambassador, you just testified that someone had reached out to you personally in August on your personal device?


MR. ZELDIN: In clarifying an answer to a question asked by the majority, I just want to understand what you were saying. A staffer or somebody reached out to you in August?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Oh, yeah. Uh-huh. Yeah. On my personal email.

MR. ZELDIN: And what was that about?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: They -- from the Foreign Affairs Committee, and they wanted me to come in and talk about, I guess, the circumstances of my departure.

MR. ZELDIN: Come in and talk where? Who -- where were they calling from?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: No. This was an email.

MR. ZELDIN: An email. Where were they emailing you from?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I presume Washington. It was House Foreign Affairs.

MR. ZELDIN: A House Foreign Affairs staffer --


MR. ZELDIN: -- reached out to you in August?


MR. ZELDIN: Do you remember when in August that was?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I want to say, like, maybe August -- mid-August, maybe. Maybe mid-August.

MR. ZELDIN: Did you know this person?


MR. ZELDIN: And how did -- where did you know that person from?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: She had previously worked at the State Department.

MR. ZELDIN: And how do you know that person at the State Department?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Because she worked at the State Department.

MR. ZELDIN: Where did you work together at the State Department?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Well, I'm not exactly sure. I think she worked in DRL and in the office that handles human rights, and it must have been either in connection with my Ukraine work or previous work in the European Bureau. I don't recall exactly when we met.

MR. ZELDIN: And when was -- how often do you communicate with this person?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: That was the only time.

MR. ZELDIN: When was the last time you had communicated with that person?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Well, I should actually clarify. So she emailed me. I alerted the State Department and, you know, asked them to handle the correspondence. And she emailed me again and said, you know, who should I be in touch with?

MR. ZELDIN: To try to get you to come in and testify to the House Foreign Affairs Committee?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: It wasn't clear to me whether it was going to be -- whether this was a discussion with her, whether this was a discussion with other staffers, whether it was a deposition. I mean, it just didn't get that far, because I transferred that information to the State Department lawyers -- well, H, actually.

MR. ZELDIN: And what specifically was she asking you to speak about?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I think -- I think it was the circumstances of my departure, or maybe she just kept it more general and said to catch up, but I understood it as that.

MR. ZELDIN: Do you know if she had reached out to other people about that?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I don't know.

MR. ZELDIN: And you -- one more time. And what did you do after you received the email?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I alerted the State Department, because I'm still an employee and so matters are generally handled through the State Department.

MR. ZELDIN: Was that person responded to by you or someone else?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I believe, yes, by words redacted                          in the Legislative Affairs office.

MR. ZELDIN: Did you receive any subsequent requests to testify to the House Foreign Affairs Committee or to come in to speak to someone at the House Foreign Affairs Committee following that initial email? Was there any follow-up?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Well, as I said, there was the second email where she said, oh, okay, you know, who should I be talking to?

I didn't respond to that email, because I had already transferred everything to the State Department and I figured they would be in touch, and they were.

MR. ZELDIN: Shifting gears, a question. Do you know who a member of the Ukraine parliament is named Andrei Derkach?


MR. ZELDIN: And what can you tell us about Andrei Derkach? Did you have any personal interaction with this person?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I don’t think so. I don't think so. He was the son of a former intel chief and was a Rada deputy, as you just pointed out.

MR. ZELDIN: Was this -- was Andrei Derkach respected in the Ukraine, not respected? Do you know anything about his character or reputation?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I think he was generally believed to be kind of part of the old system, shall we say, and so not terribly respected by those who were trying to reform Ukraine.

MR. ZELDIN: Are you aware of Andrei Derkach ever lying about anything stated publicly?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I just don't know him and know him that well, and I can't recall at this time.

MR. PERRY: Good afternoon, Ambassador. Scott Perry from Pennsylvania.

You strike me as a person who loves her country and loves her enterprise.


MR. PERRY: I appreciate your indulgence and patience today.


MR. PERRY: I want to go back to your opening statement, page 7 for me here. I don't know where it is for you. But the line in quotes, "since he was going to be impeached."

And I'm just wondering, you said the allegation is false, but would there be anything that you could think of where one of your team members or somebody close to you would -- you might imply something that you said would imply or that they would infer a negative connotation regarding the administration, administration policy, the President particularly, other than that exact verbiage? Like, instead of saying "since he was going to be impeached," you might say, "Well, he's not going to be around very long," anything like that at all?


MR. PERRY: Nothing at all that you would think that would be negative that you -- they could imply or infer?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Not -- not what -- not what you're talking about, no.

MR. PERRY: Okay, ma’am.

Moving on. Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk, I think -- I'm hoping you're aware, so I'm going to ask you a couple questions. I think he's a donor to the Clinton Foundation and the Atlantic Council. Also Mr. Pinchuk and Burisma helped fund the Atlantic Council.

And the Atlantic Council, I don't know whether you're aware, but I'm asking to ask you if you are, released a report regarding their assertion of Shokin’s corruption. Are you aware of that?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: No, but it's in line with the kind of work that they do.

MR. PERRY: Okay. And that, like I said, Victor Pinchuk and Burisma both helped to fund the Atlantic Council and maybe even some of the Burisma members are on the board of the Atlantic Council.

Once they released that report, shortly thereafter, Shokin got fired, and then very shortly thereafter Burisma went to the new prosecutor general and asked for a reset.

Does that -- and I know that earlier you kind of implied that you didn't want to get involved or didn't see it as your position to get involved in the politics, the elections, et cetera, of kind of either country in some way, the United States of America or Ukraine, but because of some of the relationships there, are you -- do you know who Victor Pinchuk is? Do you have a relationship with him?


MR. PERRY: What is your relationship?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: He's one of the wealthiest men in Ukraine. He's the son-in-law of former President Kuchma. And so he is wealthy and obviously very involved in his businesses.

But he also is interested in politics, I think funds, you know, various political actors. At one time, he had his own political party. At one time, he was a Rada deputy himself.

And he also has this YES Foundation, the Yalta Economic Summit, which previously was held in Crimea, now is held in Kyiv every year, and he invites all sorts of luminaries from all over the world to come to that.

And then throughout the year he does various events where he'll invite somebody, like Mayor Giuliani, for example, and then they'll have events, and one of the events is a dinner.

So they do all sorts of things with --

MR. PERRY: But it didn't strike you at all concerning -- I mean, with corruption being a kind of a -- one of the hallmarks, unfortunately, of the country of Ukraine, it didn't strike you -- well, you didn't know anything about the Atlantic Council's report?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Well, it sounds from the way you're describing the timeline of events --

MR. PERRY: Chain of events, correct.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: -- that that would -- that the release of that article or report would have been well before I arrived in Ukraine.

MR. PERRY: Okay.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: And as I said before, I wasn't aware of that particular report from the Atlantic Council.

MR. PERRY: Fair enough, then. But then moving on, regarding the 2016 elections, and you arrived in August of 2016, did you have any concerns regarding corruption about Ukraine’s involvement in the Manafort investigation, Burisma Holdings, et cetera, and the fact that in December of ‘18, so that’s about 2 years -- a little over 2 years after you arrived, there were two convictions in Ukraine regarding election interference of the United States? So did that concern you?

And just as a curiosity for me, and maybe everybody else, what do you see the ambassador’s role in that, especially with the collaborative agreement that the United States has with Ukraine with this alleged or actual corruption and the convictions?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Well, my understanding is that the lower court -- are you talking about Mr. Leshchenko?

MR. PERRY: There were two convictions. I don’t have the individuals’ names at this time. But I’m sure we can get them.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Well, there was -- so I’ll tell you what I know.

MR. PERRY: Sure.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: There was a court case, and you’re correct that in the lower courts, they were found guilty. And I’m not exactly sure what the charge was, but it was overturned in the upper courts.

MR. PERRY: But it wasn’t overturned until recently?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: That’s correct.

MR. PERRY: So at that time, you’re the ambassador at that time, and, of course, you see everything that’s going on in the United States regarding the charge of Russian collusion and Russian interference into the election, and even though I think you said at some point that the Ukrainian involvement was debunked, apparently it wasn’t debunked in 2018 when these two individuals were convicted.

What was your role, if any, or what did you see your role as in regarding our collateral relationship in the form of a treaty regarding corruption between the United States and Ukraine, you as the ambassador? Did you have any interest? Did you do anything? Should you have done anything?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I -- so you put a lot of things on the table, and so if I could just separate them out.

MR. PERRY: Yes, ma’am.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: So the issue of Burisma, I think, has been addressed. Or do you have other, more specific questions?

MR. PERRY: Well, I mean, it was part of -- it seems to be an ongoing part of the conversation, whether in the past with Pinchuk during the investigation heretofore, because you knew it was out there, it had been started, it was, what was the word you called?


MR. PERRY: It was dormant, but it was hanging out there maybe as leverage. And now, of course, it’s come to light again and has been in some light.

So, again, to me corruption’s a big issue. We’ve got a new President who just won a 70 percent election on corruption itself. There’s all this corruption conversation going around, but quite honestly, no disrespect intended, I don’t know what the ambassador’s involvement is in dealing with that, so that’s why I’m asking.

What is it? What should it be? What do you view your role to be? What was the expectation from the State Department?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I think -- I mean, my role was to set direction, to support various offices. We had the FBI there, we had the narcotics law enforcement office, the State Department has a big presence there. We have a number of different offices, USAID, et cetera, et cetera, all of whom have, you know, some portion of some of the issues that you’ve raised.

And so my job is to set direction, provide support, and, you know, kind of be the public persona. I don’t get involved in everything. People raise issues as they think it’s appropriate or I need to get involved.

So I don’t know if that gives you a sense --

MR. PERRY: Did you have any conversations with the Department of State, your bosses, George Kent or otherwise, regarding Burisma, regarding the fact that it was involved in the investigation, and that Mr. Biden, Vice President Biden’s son was a board member, or any -- or with the Department of Justice? Did you have any conversations at all regarding those proceedings and those occurrences over that course of time?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: So Mr. Kent was the deputy in the embassy until last summer, so we worked obviously very closely together at that time. We, to my knowledge, we never discussed Hunter Biden and his board role and all of that, or to my recollection, I should say.

MR. PERRY: Okay.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: He did share with me his understanding of what happened, what occurred with regard to the British court case against Zlochevsky, the head of Burisma. That, you know, again, happened before my arrival. That was, you know, pretty much it.

MR. PERRY: So it was Leshchenko who was one of the two persons convicted in 2018. Both were convicted of attempting to influence the 2016 U.S. election. I’m sure you must have had a keen awareness of it and the conviction. Just, do you have any further thoughts on that and what you were thinking at the time?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yeah. I mean, honestly, I didn’t believe the charges. I thought that they were politically motivated against Leshchenko. We -- I guess all of these things are judgment calls, but --

MR. PERRY: Okay.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: -- I did not feel --

MR. MEADOWS: So let me make sure. I want the spelling of this. Is this L-e-s-h-c-h-e-n-k-o? Is that Leshchenko?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yes. Yeah. I mean --

MR. MEADOWS: Go ahead.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: -- there’s many different ways you can spell it, but that’s one.

MR. MEADOWS: Well, for this North Carolina guy, that’s as close as I’m going to get. All right.

Go ahead. I didn’t mean to interrupt. I’m sorry.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: So I felt it was kind of a politically motivated charge against Mr. Leshchenko, and I -- again, you know, it felt too political to me. There were no instructions from the State Department or DOJ or, you know, Washington to, you know, go in and do X, Y, or Z, and so I really felt that we wanted to stay away from --

MR. PERRY: Okay.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: -- what seemed to be internal Ukrainian political fights kind of using us.

MR. PERRY: It didn’t concern you as the ambassador, with everything that we were embroiled here in the United States, that you didn’t hear anybody, anything from higher up in the State Department or in the Department of Justice regarding the conviction, regardless of what your view of it was? Does that seem -- because it was affecting the United States election. And I don’t have to probably remind you of what’s been going on for the last 2-1/2, 3 years here.

So it didn’t strike you that you didn’t get a phone call, an email, or anything, you know, saying what’s happening here? Is this legitimate? Should we be concerned? Is this something we should pursue?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: The court system in Ukraine, and certainly at the time that we’re talking about, was still not reformed, and so the court system didn’t have a great deal, and still does not enjoy, a great deal of credibility.

MR. PERRY: Okay.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: So I think people, you know, just didn’t find it to be credible.

MR. MEADOWS: So, Ambassador -- excuse me, Scott, if I can jump in, because I want to follow up, I guess, on a couple of questions that have come up earlier.


MR. MEADOWS: Because you’ve said that you have not gotten involved really in the political sense, and yet here we have --

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I try very hard.

MR. MEADOWS: Here we have a conviction of U.S. meddling, and you just viewed that as not being significant and you just dismissed it?

I just find that -- you know, everything else you’ve been saying today, you know, that just is hard to believe that, based on the backdrop of what we have, that you just dismissed that and suggested that it just wasn’t credible.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Well, that was our view, that it wasn’t credible. The court process was continuing. And in the end, they were acquitted.

MR. MEADOWS: So let me go a little bit further.


MR. MEADOWS: So you’re saying -- sorry, I jumped on the end of your statement. The court process was continuing and they’ve been -- it’s been overturned by a higher court now. Is that what you were going to say?


MR. MEADOWS: So earlier you were asked about people that you might have mentioned, when Mr. Zeldin was asking you questions, and you could only recall.


MR. MEADOWS: And so I’ve got some names that I just want to kind of lay out for you to maybe would refresh year memory. And one the of those names, actually the reason why I spelled it out, was this very individual that Mr. Perry is bringing up, that according to some of our sources would indicate that the State Department and your group may have mentioned that you wanted certain guardrails around Mr. Leshchenko. Is that correct?


MR. MEADOWS: So you’ve never had a conversation with anybody at the State Department regarding Mr. Leshchenko in terms of saying, well, we need to make sure that he’s off limits?


MEADOWS: No special treatment for him?


MR. MEADOWS: All right. Well, you mentioned, was it Nayem? Is that correct? Have you mentioned that before?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Have I mentioned what?

MR. MEADOWS: So who was the one individual you said that you weighed in on?

Mr. CASTOR: Sytnyk.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Sytnyk. Sytnyk.

MR. MEADOWS: All right. How about AntAC? Does that name ring a bell to you?


MR. MEADOWS: So have you weighed in verbally with regards to any special treatment for AntAC?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: No. But here’s the thing. What I have consistently done is said that any prosecutions need to be done according to the law and not be politically motivated.

MR. MEADOWS: And that’s consistent with your earlier testimony. However, earlier, when Mr. Zeldin was asking you about individual cases that you might have brought up and he was saying case numbers, there seemed to be a little bit of confusion. I guess is this one of the cases that you might have brought up with other individuals at the State Department?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: There was -- at the State Department? We probably --

MR. MEADOWS: Or anywhere else.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yeah. So there was -- one of the leaders of AntAC was -- there were demonstrations, I think, in the -- I can’t remember whether it was the fall or the spring of 2016, and one of the individuals that leads AntAC was -- there was, like, some hooliganism charge or something like that where he had -- there was some charge like that. Again, I’m sorry, it was a long time ago. I don’t recall the details.

So this is, again, not an anticorruption case. But, again, cases should be dealt with in a consistent manner, and, again, not politically motivated, and according to the rule of law.

And I think, you know, in that hooliganism case, I think members of the embassy probably did raise the issue that he seemed to be scapegoating and being held to a different standard than others who were maybe more aligned with the administration.

MR. MEADOWS: So you did weigh in on that one in terms of --

MS. YOVANOVITCH: It was not an anticorruption issue.

MR. MEADOWS: Okay. So let me give you another name, then. Is it Shabunin, S-h-a-b-u-n-i-n?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: That’s actually the name of the individual.

MR. MEADOWS: All right. So that’s the individual with AntAC?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: That was up on hooliganism charges.

MR. MEADOWS: All right. And how about Nayem, N-a-y-e-m? Does that ring a bell?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Mustafa (ph) Nayem?

MR. MEADOWS: I’m sorry. I’m not Ukrainian. So you --

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Neither am I. Yeah. I don’t recall him actually --

MR. MEADOWS: So you don’t recall weighing in with regards to that individual in any --

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I don’t think he was ever arrested or charged with anything.

MR. MEADOWS: I didn’t say that. I said did you weigh in in terms of putting guardrails in terms of --


MR. MEADOWS: -- the treatment of that particular individual with anyone from the embassy?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: And can I -- and I would also say, we don’t put guardrails on individuals.

MR. MEADOWS: Okay. Well, let’s change the words, because those are my words. So obviously you’re saying we’re looking at it a little differently. And obviously with regards to the one individual, you did say you felt like they were getting a bum deal. Is that correct?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yeah. I think what we try to do is to talk about the principles that should govern the way, you know, whether it’s law enforcement or other things are conducted, but we don’t say yea or nay.

MR. MEADOWS: Yeah. And so I want to make sure I’m -- you know, I’m saying weighing in. It was actually weighing in with the prosecutor, is what I’m talking about.

So when you’ve weighed in with the prosecutor on any of these four people, or the four names that I’ve given you, have you weighed in with the prosecutor from the embassy to the prosecutor in Ukraine at all?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I’m not sure that conversation took place with the prosecutor.

MR. MEADOWS: Well, with anyone associated with the prosecutor?

And I think you know where I’m going with this, but if I need to spell it out, I’m willing to do that.


MR. MEADOWS: I just want to -- I want to make sure you clarify the record, because you’ve seemed like you’re trying to get the testimony right, and that’s why I’m giving you these names.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Uh-huh. So you’re saying that I weighed in.

What was actually happening is that on this particular case with Mr. Shabunin, the Presidential administration was weighing in with me and with us at the embassy, because they felt that we had influence with Mr. Shabunin and to see whether he could, you know, curtail his criticism, shall we say, of Mr. Poroshenko and events in Ukraine.

And they -- when there was this incident, which I don’t recall very well, they raised that and said, you know, you see clearly he’s a bad apple -- my words now, not theirs. And, you know, again, I said, well, you know, I mean, obviously you have processes, but they need to be according to the principles that we’ve been talking about for all this time.

MR. MEADOWS: So let me switch gears real quickly, because I don’t know that we’ve got much time left.

How much time do we have left.

Mr. CASTOR: The time expires at 5:27, so we’ve got about 7 minutes.

MR. MEADOWS: All right. So let me switch gears and follow up on something that Mr. Jordan had asked about. He was talking about the conversation you had in August with Mr. Kent.


MR. MEADOWS: And Mr. Kent shared, I guess, the details or his perception of a classified phone conversation between two leaders with you. Is that --

THE CHAIRMAN: If I could just interject. No one has said it was classified except --

MR. MEADOWS: Well, I mean, we had to have it unclassified for us to see it. I mean, it says "unclassified" on the top.

THE CHAIRMAN: Well, you’re positing, though, that the witness has said that this is a classified call or that that’s an established fact.

MR. MEADOWS: Well, let her answer that.

Did he indicate that it was a classified call?


MR. MEADOWS: Did you have any idea that it perhaps could be a classified call between two foreign leaders?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: [Nonverbal response.]

MR. MEADOWS: You’re a career diplomat. I can’t imagine that --

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yeah. I didn’t think that the particular thing, the particular part that he shared with me actually was classified.

MR. MEADOWS: What particular part did he share with you?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Well, as I said --

MR. MEADOWS: Did he talk about a whistleblower at all in that conversation?


MR. MEADOWS: So why did he reach out to you?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I’m not sure he reached out to me.

MR. MEADOWS: Well, you said he called you, right?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: No, I didn’t. I mean, I think -- again, I can’t recall whether it was in -- I think you were asking me whether it was in August or September. But we, you know, at a meeting or something, we spoke about this. It wasn’t over a phone.

MR. MEADOWS: So at a meeting at Georgetown? Where was the meeting? I mean, because you weren’t in your official capacity. I’m just trying to --


MR. MEADOWS: -- get a sense of why all of a sudden the two of you would be talking about something that we didn’t find out about until weeks later.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Right. I’m sorry. I can’t remember the circumstances of the conversation.

MR. MEADOWS: Do you remember where the conversation took place?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I do not. I do not.

MR. MEADOWS: So you just know that it took -- so it may have been in a meeting or it may have been in a phone call, but you don’t recall?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Well, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a phone call, because -- I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a phone call.

But I -- you know, as to -- so you’re asking why? I think because he knew that I was still interested, still interested in Ukraine.

MR. MEADOWS: So he was -- he knew you were interested in a phone call that took place that you didn’t know had --

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Interested in the bilateral relationship.

MR. MEADOWS: I beg your pardon?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Interested in the bilateral relationship, and, you know, hoping --

MR. MEADOWS: So did he say anything negative about the President of the United States in that conversation with you?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: No, I wouldn’t say that.

MR. MEADOWS: So it was a -- he said it in a positive manner about -- I mean, help -- bring me into the room, into the conversation. How did he characterize the President’s actions, in a positive or negative manner?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I think it was just a factual manner, that this occurred and this was Zelensky’s response.

[5:25 p.m.]

MR. MEADOWS: And so Zelensky didn’t see it as a big deal is what he said?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: He said that President Zelensky, that he noted that, you know, some of the things that President Trump was talking about happened, you know, under the previous administration, and that he would have his own person, you know, as prosecutor general.

And, you know, I don’t think that Mr. Kent was on the call either, and so maybe he didn’t have full information, but he took that to mean that President Zelensky had not accepted the proposal.

MR. MEADOWS: Do you recall how he shared with you how he found out about the call since he wasn’t on it?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: No, I don’t know.

MR. MEADOWS: So he just said it’s water cooler talk? I mean, how would George Kent -- how would Mr. Kent, Ambassador Kent know about that?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I don’t know.

MR. MEADOWS: Okay. And then finally, I guess, is, once the characterization he made of the call when you read the transcript for yourself, was that consistent with the way that he characterized it?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: It didn’t seem to -- well, I think that the call, the summary of the call is a little bit -- you can interpret it in different ways. And so it seemed that Mr. Zelensky was more open to the various proposals than I had understood.

MR. JORDAN: Ambassador, did he call you to talk about the corruption element of the phone call, or did he call to tell you that you were mentioned in the phone call?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: As I said, I am pretty sure it was not a phone call, number one.

MR. JORDAN: Okay. But the conversation, what was it about, both of those issues or -- because I’m not exactly sure what he communicated to you other than that there was this call between President Trump and President Zelensky, and then he characterized elements of, you know, what took place on that phone call in a meeting with you. What did he tell you?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Well, he told me what I just relayed to your colleague. He did not say, however, anything about me. I had no idea that I featured in this conversation.

MR. JORDAN: So he didn’t tell you that you were mentioned in the phone call between President Zelensky --


MR. JORDAN: Interesting, okay. Thank you.

MR. MEADOWS: And since we’re out of time, I just want to know one thing. Ambassador Volker said awful nice things about you, and he said that you’re called Masha.


MR. MEADOWS: Where did you get that name from?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Well, despite my posting to Ukraine, I’m actually half Russian, and it’s a Russian nickname.

MR. MEADOWS: I yield back.

THE CHAIRMAN: Would you like to take a little break?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: How much longer?

MR. ROBBINS: How close are we to being done is the key question?

THE CHAIRMAN: I would hope -- although I can’t guarantee, I would hope that maybe a 45-minute round, a 45-minute round, we should be close to done, but I don’t want to promise, depending on -- but we’re going to do our very best. Do you want to just keep motoring through?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Well, why don’t we keep motoring through, but if it’s another 45 minutes after that, I am going to have to take a break.

THE CHAIRMAN: Okay, that sounds good.

I just had a quick follow-up question before I yielded to my colleagues. You were Ambassador to Ukraine for how long?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Almost 3 years.

THE CHAIRMAN: Almost 3 years. And did you develop in these 3 years a deep interest in Ukraine and its future?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I did. And I would also just say that this was my second tour in Ukraine, so yes.

THE CHAIRMAN: And when you stop being an Ambassador to a country, does that mean that you no longer have any interest in that country?


THE CHAIRMAN: And people in the Diplomatic Corps would know you were still interested in the happenings in that country, would they not?

MR. ROBBINS: That is correct.

THE CHAIRMAN: And, indeed, when you left prior posts in Armenia and elsewhere, people would continue to keep you informed on how Armenia was doing, I imagine.


THE CHAIRMAN: Still do. So not unusual at all once you leave a post for colleagues to continue sharing with you information about how that country is doing and how relations are between the U.S. and that country?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: That is correct.

THE CHAIRMAN: Mr. Maloney.

MR. MALONEY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Ambassador Yovanovitch, my name is Sean Maloney. I represent a district in New York. We’ve been here for more than 7 hours so, first of all, thank you very much for your patience with us.

And I think it’s useful sometimes at that point in the day just to summarize, and so I just have a few summary questions and I just want to make sure I understand your testimony. And so please disagree with me if you think I'm misstating anything, but you spent more than 30 years in the Foreign Service. Is that correct?

MS. Y0VAN0VITCH: Thirty-three years.

MR. MALONEY: And you were the United States Ambassador to Ukraine; and having spent hours listening to you, it sure seems like you were committed to that job. Is that fair to say?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yes, very much so.

MR. MALONEY: And you were good at it, weren't you, ma’am?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I think so.

MR. MALONEY: And you had the approval of your bosses at the State Department. In fact, they wanted to extend your tour. Is that fair to say?


MR. MALONEY: And then along came Rudy Giuliani, and he represented a group of American businessmen, now indicted, who believed that you were somehow in their way. Is that fair to say, that you were in the way of their business interests in Ukraine?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: That appears to be the case.

MR. MALONEY: We're talking about Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman?


MR. MALONEY: And he was also, of course, advancing

President Trump's desire and interests, which the President has admitted in getting an investigation of the Bidens going in Ukraine. That's true as well, isn't it?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: It appears to be the case.

MR. MALONEY: But, again, you were in the way, at least in the minds of Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Trump and Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman. You were an obstacle, it seems, to President Trump's political interests and the financial interests of Mr. Giuliani's now-indicted associates. Is that the sum and substance of your testimony today?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Well, that appears to be how events have unfolded.

MR. MALONEY: And so, they partnered -- I believe that was your word -- they partnered with Mr. Lutsenko to get you fired. Isn't that right?


MR. MALONEY: They got a story in The Hill newspaper about you. They fired up Sean Hannity. They got a Republican Congressman, Pete Sessions, to write a letter criticizing you. They made a bunch of illegal -- apparently illegal campaign contributions we now know about. They even tried to dump a bunch of dirt on you, as I understand through the State Department IG. Is that all correct? You want me to leave off the last one?

MR. ROBBINS: Well, she's not a lawyer. She can't comment on whether these are campaign finance violations or not.

MR. MALONEY: I appreciate that, Mr. Robbins.

There was a story in The Hill newspaper. Sean Hannity got involved, Pete Sessions wrote a letter, and there are apparently illegal campaign contributions, all related to you, isn't that right, and the desire to get you fired?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: That appears to be the case.

MR. MALONEY: Well, and it worked, didn't it, Ambassador?


MR. MALONEY: They got you out of the way. It seems to me they threw you to the wolves. Is that what happened?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Well, clearly, they didn't want me in Ukraine anymore.

MR. MALONEY: And so, if you were going to sum up why you were such a problem for the political interests of the President in trying to get this investigation started of the Bidens and the financial interests of Mr. Giuliani's now-indicted associates, why were you such a thorn in their side that you had to be fired?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Honestly, it's a mystery to me; but all I can conclude from everything that I've seen over the last 5 or 6 months is that they felt that our policy to try to make Ukraine stronger and more resilient, through the anticorruption policies as well as through, you know, the other assistance that we've talked about today, and that our policies and our actions, and specifically my actions, as the leader of the U.S. embassy, were, you know, problematic for them. I don’t know why that would be, though, because it is our policy.

MR. MALONEY: Well, Madam Ambassador, I want to tell you that I've spent years working at the White House in State government, years now in the Congress. I've spent a lot of time around a lot of senior government officials, a lot of members of the Foreign Service. I attended the Georgetown School of Foreign Service.

I want to let you know that I don't recall ever seeing someone treated as poorly as you've been treated, and I think you're owed an apology by your government. And I think you've served the country well and honorably for a long, long time, and you didn't deserve this. And I appreciate your appearance today, and I just want to let you know that some of us feel very badly about what's happened to you.


THE CHAIRMAN: I'd just like to say amen to that.

Representative Heck.

MR. HECK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Madam Ambassador, my name is Denny Heck. I have the privilege to represent the 10th District of Washington State.

My questioning will be brief, beginning with: Once you reach ambassadorial ranking at the State Department, does the Department have any systematic feedback or performance for ambassadors, however formal or informal?

MS. Y0VANOVITCH: Yes. We have an evaluation process every year that is written, and then there are counseling sessions, you know, three or four during the year. But there's a written document of how you have done that year.

MR. HECK: Did you have that evaluation performed while you were in Ukraine?


MR. HECK: Once or twice or three times?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Actually, I'm not even sure, because there was -- it was at least four times, maybe even more, because there was a change of administration. So the direct supervisor, the Assistant Secretary changed, et cetera, et cetera. So a number of evaluations.

MR. HECK: Were any of those evaluations negative?


MR. HECK: Did any of them cite serious concerns for any aspect of your performance?


MR. HECK: Is that also true of your entire 33 years at the State Department?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Pretty much.

MR. HECK: Is it fair or accurate to say that during your 33 years at the State Department, more or less, you had a steady progression of responsibilities given to you?


MR. HECK: Thank you for your service, ma'am.


THE CHAIRMAN: Malinowski.

MR. MALINOWSKI: Thank you.

Ambassador, I first want to echo Representative Maloney's comments.


MR. MALINOWSKI: As you know, we served in the same institution on two separate occasions. I served at the NSC. What you're describing is completely alien to me, I guess with the caveat that I have seen it in other countries, but not in the United States of America, and shocked and dismayed is very diplomatic language that you used for what you described ensued.

I want to spend a little bit of time running through with you some of the things you said about our anticorruption policies. I want to have -- I want to make sure that everyone has a better understanding of what we as a country, we as a government are actually about.

That there was a comprehensive anticorruption policy being pursued by the administration through you, through the embassy and other agencies. That would have involved providing financial support, grants through USAID to anticorruption organizations operating in Ukraine. Is that correct?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: That is correct.

MR. MALINOWSKI: It would have involved a lot of advocacy aimed at strengthening the various anticorruption institutions in the country. You mentioned the National Anticorruption Bureau of Ukraine, NABU, for example, which was, would you agree, good in concept but needed improvement in terms of how it was operating?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yes, that is correct.

MR. MALINOWSKI: More support, more resources.

My understanding -- there's also an anticorruption court, which was an important reform, but also would you say something that needed significant improvement?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Well, and it's only just been stood up. It just started working in September of this year.

MR. MALINOWSKI: Understood. My understanding is that over 100 cases, specific cases, have been referred from NABU to the anticorruption court that have not yet been acted on. Does that sound right to you?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: That sounds right as of about the time that I left, but I don't know what the status is now.

MR. MALINOWSKI: Understood. So we would have been pushing these institutions to accelerate, intensify that work to show better results. Is that correct?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yeah. That's what the Ukrainian people want.

MR. MALINOWSKI: There was a law on illicit enrichment of public officials which was struck down by the courts, and then we were advocating that it be reintroduced by the new administration. Is that correct?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yes, and it was specifically one of the issues that I mentioned in that March 5th speech.

MR. MALINOWSKI: And I think you also mentioned in that speech the need to fight corruption in the defense sector. You mentioned Ukroboronprom, the main defense company.


MR. MALINOWSKI: And there have been a lot of, you know, illicit contracts, people profiting on the side from arms acquisitions, and you were very concerned about that. You asked for an audit of that company. Is that correct?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: That is correct, because this was all taking place at a time when Ukraine was actually in a shooting war with Russia.

MR. MALINOWSKI: And then we have discussed the all-important office of the special anticorruption prosecutor, Mr. Kholodnitsky.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Kholodnitsky.

MR. MALINOWSKI: Kholodnitsky. And in that speech, you pointed to the coaching of suspects in anticorruption cases, and you pointed out that nobody could serve effectively in that capacity who was caught doing such things.

The day after actually you gave that speech, Under Secretary Hale visited Ukraine. Is that --

MS. YOVANOVITCH: He arrived that night.

MR. MALINOWSKI: And so, those issues might -- were those issues raised by Under Secretary Hale?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yes, they were raised in bilateral meetings. And I obviously told him about the speech and gave him a copy and so forth.

MR. MALINOWSKI: And was that speech cleared in the Department?


MR. MALINOWSKI: But you did discuss it, as you mentioned before, with folks back home?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: It wasn't a surprise to anybody. I can't remember whether I had the conversation or somebody else did.

MR. MALINOWSKI: And nobody objected to the thrust of it

MS. YOVANOVITCH: No. We were quite concerned about the rollback of these reforms.

MR. MALINOWSKI: So this was a comprehensive anticorruption strategy with a lot of asks, probably many that I didn't mention and don't know about.

So my next question is, to your knowledge, did Mayor Giuliani, in any of his meetings with Ukrainian officials, in any of his public statements or interviews, did he press the Ukrainians to pursue those reforms to this system of corruption, these specific things that the U.S. Government, under the Trump administration, was asking the Ukrainians to do?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I'm not sure, but I did notice that the -- one of the papers that you provided, which was Mr. Giuliani's speech at the YES Conference, he talked about the importance of fighting corruption and so forth. But I'm not sure --

MR. MALINOWSKI: In general terms, but did he --

MS. YOVANOVITCH: In general terms.

MR. MALINOWSKI: Did he raise the anticorruption court? Did he raise the need to strength NABU and to --

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Not that I'm aware of.

MR. MALINOWSKI: Did Ambassador Sondland, in his engagements with the Ukrainian authorities, press on these specific, not anticorruption in general, but press on these specific reforms and changes that we were seeking?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I don't think so. Recalling that, you know, his sort of interest in Ukraine or engagement with Ukraine started sort of at the end of February, and I was gone by April 20th -- or May 20th.

MR. MALINOWSKI: To your knowledge, did the President or anyone purporting to speak for the President press the Ukrainians on these specific reforms?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Well, of course --

MR. MALINOWSKI: I mean you, of course.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: -- we. We represent the President.

MR. MALINOWSKI: But, I mean, these emissaries, these sort of more informal folks who were coming in who were not you the ambassador or the State Department, were they pressing on this specific reform agenda?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I do feel that Ambassador Sondland, as a businessman himself, understood that corruption was taking a heavy toll on Ukraine, and so he did the top note.

MR. MALINOWSKI: Right. But as far as specifics --

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I don't recall the specifics, yeah.

MR. MALINOWSKI: But as far as specifics, did these individuals raise any specific cases or issues other than Burisma and this theory about what may have happened in 2016, to your knowledge?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Not to my knowledge

MR. MALINOWSKI: So it's been argued, you know, since this has become a major public issue, that perhaps the subsequent decisions that were made to hold up the provision of the Javelins, military aid, to hold a potential Presidential meeting with President Zelensky, that they were linked to broader concerns about corruption in Ukraine.

Is there any evidence that the folks who were communicating those decisions were, again, raising any specific concerns with regard to corruption, policy corruption reforms in Ukraine, other than Burisma and what they think happened in 2016?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Not to my knowledge.

MR. MALINOWSKI: I mean, that's interesting, don't you think, that with all this rhetoric about corruption, and we have highly specific policies pursued by the Trump administration through the State Department, through official channels, and yet, with military assistance at stake, none of those issues get discussed. Do you find that odd?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yeah. I mean, there are a lot of important bilateral issues that need to be discussed at the highest levels.

MR. MALINOWSKI: So, speaking of the subsequent decisions -- and I know you were not there for the ultimate discussions about the aid being suspended, but I did want to ask you how you believe the Ukrainians would have perceived those decisions in this context.

You have, at the time that you were there, signs that there is perhaps a parallel policy. You've said that the official administration policy, as represented by the State Department, was very positive towards Ukraine. You strongly supported it, that it was, in one respect, better than the Obama administration's policy.

But did it begin to seem as if there was, perhaps, a parallel policy, represented by Mr. Giuliani and those around him, that had a different set of priorities?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Well, in retrospect, you know, that characterization seems to be correct. But at the time, you know, we weren't seeing, you know, all of the pieces. I mean, we could feel that there was stuff out there, but we hadn't put it all together.

And so, you know, I mean, I was telling everybody, you know, keep on charging forward. This is our policy. This is agreed policy that Republicans, Democrats have all approved.

MR. MALINOWSKI: And before the aid was suspended, it would have been fair, perhaps, for the Ukrainian Government to share your view that the official policy was as you were representing it. Is that fair to say?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Except I think that there were other emissaries, you know, perhaps sharing other things or focusing on other things that would have maybe confuse people.

MR. MALINOWSKI: But would the knowledge on the part of the Ukrainians that there were now consequences, aid was suspended, a meeting was being held up, would that not have raised the level of alarm?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yes. Yes, absolutely.

MR. MALINOWSKI: And so in a sense the parallel policy, no pun intended, started to trump the official policy at that point, in retrospect, based on what you know?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: In retrospect, yes.

MR. MALINOWSKI: And if you’re a foreign government, and you're receiving a message from people who you believe are emissaries of the President, would you believe that if it's coming from the President, then that's what you listen to above what you may be hearing from the State Department or other agencies that, again, no pun intended, the President trumps all others?


MR. MALINOWSKI: Thank you.

THE CHAIRMAN: Eleanor Holmes Norton.

MS. NORTON: Madam Ambassador, I want to commend you on the way you've handled yourself here today and as Ambassador.

I'd really like you -- my question really goes to your role as ambassador during such change in leadership in Ukraine, whether you felt your role was changing at all during that kind of upheaval in the country itself and, if so, how?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: You mean with regard to elections, Presidential elections?

MS. NORTON: No, with regard to the -- you are the ambassador. These changes are occurring during your tenure. You have to relate to not only these changes, but to changes in personnel. I'm trying to find out how you related to changes in personnel during your time as Ambassador.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yes, during -- with the new Zelensky team?

MS. NORTON: Excuse me?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: With the new Presidential team?


MS. YOVANOVITCH: So that didn't fully occur until actually the day I left, because the day I left permanently, May 20th, was the day of President Zelensky's inauguration. But, again, we could see it coming, and so you want to make sure the relationships are solid, that there is, you know, some kind of a game plan, at least, for how we're going to be engaging with the new team and so forth.

And so, you know, after that first meeting that I had with President Zelensky in September where I still didn't believe that Poroshenko wouldn't be the -- you know, reelected, but we started, you know, having meetings with him. And in November, we started introducing him to visiting U.S. VIPs, as appropriate.

So when -- we've mentioned the David Hale visit. When David Hale was in town in March, we made sure that he had some time with Zelensky, because we wanted to, first of all, socialize Washington to the fact that there might be a pretty significant change; but secondly, you know, let Zelensky know that we -- you know, our foreign -- our leaders, we want our leaders to be able to meet with you, engage with you, and start that process.

And, you know, we had a whole team that was covering, obviously, the elections. And as Zelensky's team members became evident, people in the political section were reaching out to -- you know, to their appropriate contacts and so forth, because we want to make sure -- we have a very strong -- despite everything we've discussed today, we have a very strong bilateral relationship with Ukraine.

And we want to make sure that that continues, because we have huge equities in that country, you know, starting with the fact that we don't want Russia to win that war. And so, we wanted to make sure that from day one, the doors would still be open to us, as the new Zelensky government, you know, became acclimated to its new role.

Did that answer the question?

MS. NORTON; Yes. But were there discussions, specific discussions of military aid from the United States to Ukraine during -- before you left, and during those changes within the country, and were there differences or was that consistent with respect to how that military aid was viewed?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Right. So yes, there are constant discussions of military assistance to Ukraine, both on the American side, on the Ukrainian side, and, you know, with other international partners that also are providing security and military assistance.

So there's a whole process that obviously is led by DOD of consultations on these issues. Where do the Ukrainians think they need help, which one of the foreign partners could best help Ukraine with that particular request, and so forth. So that goes on pretty much all year.

And then, of course, there is the budget process that the Congress is in charge of, and there are, you know, multiple discussions, as you probably know better than I, about, you know, what is most appropriate, what can we do? And, you know, Members have strong views and, obviously, those views are incorporated as well.

MS. NORTON: Finally, were there any instructions from Washington during these changes that you were experiencing, or were you essentially left to decide for yourself how to operate as ambassador?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: You know, that's a really good question. So it’s -- you know, it's kind of an iterative process, that we're always in touch with each other. So we're -- you know, with modern communication, whether it's by email, whether it's by phone, whether it’s, you know, a formal cable back to the Department, whether it's, you know, visitors coming, but we're always sharing what we're seeing, what we’re thinking, what our advice is, what the possible challenges might be, how Washington can formulate the best policy to meet that challenge. And it's kind of an iterative process.

So we -- but, you know, I don't get to answer, you know, the specific question. It's very rare for an ambassador to get, you know, kind of a full instruction on Monday of the things you need to do that -- you know, that week. I mean, we might get an instruction to go in on a particular issue that we feel strongly about with regard to arms control or Iran or something, but usually, it's a very iterative process when it comes to bilateral affairs.

MS. NORTON: Well, thank you, Madam Ambassador, for your service in a very tough situation.


THE CHAIRMAN: Mr. Mitchell.


Q  Madam Ambassador, are you familiar with an individual named Dmytry Firtash?

A  I know who he is.

Q  What do you know about him?

A  He is living in Vienna now and is fighting extradition to the U.S. by the FBI.

Q  And do you know what he's been charged with in the United States?

A  I think it's money laundering charges.

Q  Do you know if he has any sort of -- Mr. Firtash has any sort of relationship with Mr. Parnas?

A  I'm not sure.

Q  What about with Mr. Fruman?

A  I'm not -- I'm not sure.

Q  Mr. Shokin?

A  Yes.

Q  What's their relationship?

A  I don't know what the relationship is, but I saw, I think, it was last week that he testified in some court process in Vienna.

Q  "He" being Mr. Shokin?

A  Yes.

Q  And do you know who represents Mr. Firtash in the United States?

A  I'm not sufficiently confident to say.

Q  Do you know whether Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova represent Mr. Firtash?

A  I've read that in the press.

Q  But you have nothing -- no other knowledge other than what you've read in the press about them?

A  No.

Q  Okay. And you indicated that Mr. Firtash resides in Vienna?

A  Yes.

Q  And are you aware that Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman were arrested a couple of days ago at Dulles Airport with tickets to Vienna?

A  I read that in the news.

Q  And are you aware that Mr. Giuliani has also said that he had tickets to Vienna?

A  I wasn't aware of that.

Q  Are you aware of any Congressmen traveling to Vienna this year?

A  I'm sure lots of Congressmen travel to Vienna.

Q  To meet with Mr. Firtash?

A  That I'm not aware of.

Q  Now, you testified earlier that you had a conversation with Mr. Avakov in about February of 2019, I believe, which you discussed with Mr. Avakov Mr. Giuliani's activities in Ukraine. You learned about what Mr. Avakov believed Mr. Giuliani was up to. Is that correct?

A  Yeah, although, you know, he focused more on Mr. Lutsenko and Mr. Fruman and Mr. Parnas.

Q  But Mr. Giuliani was also discussed during that conversation?

A  Yes.

Q  And you also indicated that you had at least one conversation with I believe a deputy of Mr. Lutsenko about the fact that Mr. Giuliani had met with Mr. Lutsenko sometime in the middle of 2018. Is that correct?

A  I didn't have that conversation. The Charge at the time in Ukraine had that conversation.

Q  And who was that?

A  Joseph Pennington.

Q  About what time period did you have that conversation with Mr. Pennington?

A  It would have been -- it was the week -- the week that I left. So the end of April.

Q  Did you have more than one conversation with Mr. Pennington or just that one about this topic?

A  I think on, you know, what Yenin told him, Mr. Yenin told him, just the one.

Q  But what about generally on the topic of Mr. Giuliani's activities in Ukraine, did you have more than one conversation with Mr. Pennington about that?

A  I mean, the short answer is probably. I don't recall any particular conversation that stands out. Again, I tried to -- we were super busy at the embassy, because there was a Presidential election. We were covering it. We were trying to figure out how to move our policies forward in a time of change. And all of this I thought, I hoped was a distraction.

And so I tried to, you know, look at the media and not dwell on it too much. And my instructions to the team were full speed ahead. We have not been instructed by Washington to change our policy or activities in any way, and we need to be out there and demonstrating that we are still at work. We are still representing the American people.

Q  Do you recall having any conversations with Kurt Volker about Giuliani's activities in Ukraine?

A  No. About maybe a week, a week and a half after The Hill article, we had a conversation, but about the Donbass. And he started the conversation by saying, You know, it's going to be okay. It will all blow over. I know it's unpleasant now. But that was the extent of the conversation.

Q  And when you say, "it will all blow over," he was referring to the article in The Hill?

A  Yeah, the article, the -- you know, the tweets, the social media, the interviews, et cetera.

Q  And what about conversations with George Kent about Giuliani's activities in Ukraine, did you have more than one conversation with Mr. Kent about that topic?

A  Yes.

Q  Do you recall roughly when the first time would have been when you had conversations with Mr. Kent about Giuliani's activities in Ukraine?

A  Probably in the November-December 2018 time period, because that's when Avakov, Minister Avakov, not to me, but to embassy people, or an embassy person, said, you know, that there's something out there, she needs to be -- she, me, needs to be careful. And so, you know, the next phone conversation -- I mean, I didn't have anything specific to report except for what I just told you now.

Q  And it sounds like you had more than one conversation with Mr. Kent about this topic?

A  Yes.

Q  So the first one would have been late 2018. When was the next time that you had an occasion to talk to Mr. Kent about this?

A  Well, so the next time was probably when I was here in Washington for the Chief of Mission Conference in early January. And I saw, you know, George. So we discussed these issues. But, you know, there wasn't anything really there at that time.

Q  That you were aware of?

A  Yes, exactly. I mean, I didn't know at that time that Mr. Lutsenko was actually in the U.S. in January to meet with Mr. Giuliani.

Q  So when you had this conversation with Mr. Kent in January of 2019, you knew, generally, of Mr. Giuliani's activities, but you knew a lot less then than you know now?

A  Yeah.

Q  Can you describe the nature of that conversation that you had with Mr. Kent?

A  Yeah. So there was, you know, as reported, that there was this -- these contacts between Giuliani and Lutsenko. That was very nebulous and I didn't have much to go on, but there was also another issue that dealt with Mr. Giuliani, where the embassy had received -- so, just backing up to explain it.

The embassy had received a visa application for a tourist visa from Mr. Shokin, the previous prosecutor general. And he said that he was coming to visit his children, who live in the United States. And so, the consular folks, you know, got the application, recognized the name, and believed that he was ineligible for a visa, based on his, you know, known corrupt activities.

And they alerted me to this. And I said, Well, what would you do if he wasn't -- if it wasn't Mr. Shokin, if it was some other businessman that we didn't recognize the name? And they said, We would refuse the visa. And so, my understanding is that that's -- that that is what happened, either a formal hard refusal, or what we call a 221G, which is an administrative refusal, asking for more information.

The next thing we knew -- so I alerted Washington to this, that this had happened. And the next thing we knew, Mayor Giuliani was calling the White House as well as the Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs, saying that I was blocking the visa for Mr. Shokin, and that Mr. Shokin was coming to meet him and provide information about corruption at the embassy, including my corruption.

Q  Did you know the purported purpose of Mr. Shokin's travel to the United States at the time when you had this discussion with the consular folks about following normal protocol --

A  No.

Q  -- and not making any exceptions for Mr. Shokin?

A  No. What he told -- I mean, we can only go by what a visa applicant tells us. What he told us was that he was going to -- I don't know if it's child or children, but a child, at least, in the United States, and so, we assumed that that was the truth.

Q  And you indicated that you notified, or you alerted Washington. What do you mean by that?

A  Well, you know, I called, again, the Deputy Assistant Secretary, George Kent, to let -- you know, since he's the person who is responsible day-to-day for Ukraine policy, I think I called him to let him know that this was out there. I wasn't sure whether there would be -- I mean, what I was imagining is that maybe President Poroshenko, since they have a close relationship, might complain, or that maybe the Ambassador here might complain.

I mean, because I thought that since he was a man who previously held a high position and continues to know those individuals that there might be complaints, and you never want to blindside Washington. So we let them know.

And, again, I know that Mr. Kent talked to Assistant Secretary of State Wess Mitchell. And Wess -- Mr. Mitchell was completely supportive, that this had been the right decision.

And when -- you know, of course, when the calls came from Mr. Giuliani to the White House and to the Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs, they got in touch with the European Bureau, and Mr. Mitchell, you know, held firm. I mean, it was a consular decision. The consular folks felt that they had made the right decision. And, you know, there was the added issue that, you know, basically the notorious reputation of Mr. Shokin. And, frankly, at the end of the day, he lied on his visa application.

Q  How did he lie?

A  He told us that he was going to visit a child or children, but then the next thing that we know is he was really going to see Mayor Giuliani.

Q  And you learned that?

A  From Mayor Giuliani.

Q  Mr. Giuliani stated such?

A  Yeah. I mean, I didn't hear that directly, obviously, but --

Q  Did you have any conversations with Ambassador Sondland about Giuliani's activities in Ukraine?

A  The only activity I had was -- I'm sorry, the only conversation I had was after The Hill article, after the weekend of, you know, all the attacks and Hannity and everything else and the tweet from Donald Trump Jr., I called Mr. Sondland to ask him his advice of -- you know, when this appeared to be a Ukraine story, when it was Lutsenko's interview, the State Department was supportive. There was actually a visiting delegation of Congressional Members.

They were very supportive and raised this in all issues, that this is not the way to treat our ambassador. I really appreciated that. But then when the story seemed to shift to the United States, then obviously it became much more delicate.

Q  And what did Mr. Sondland say when you talked to him about this topic?

A  He hadn't been aware of it, that the story had shifted, and he said, you know, you need to go big or go home. You need to, you know, tweet out there that you support the President, and that all these are lies and everything else. And, you know, so, you know, I mean, obviously, that was advice. It was advice that I did not see how I could implement in my role as an Ambassador, and as a Foreign Service officer.

Q  Why not?

A  Well, for one thing, the State Department was silent. I just didn't see that there would be any advantage to publicly taking on a fight with those who were criticizing me in the United States.

Q  Was that your only conversation with Mr. Sondland about this?

A  Yes. I mean, when it was a Ukraine story, I had talked to him about it, and he was quite helpful. But, you know, when it shifted locus, then that was the only one.

Q  You testified earlier that Mr. Brechbuhl, I think you said, was running point on -- during the time period that you were recalled. Is that correct?

A  Yes.

Q  Did you have any conversations with Counsel Brechbuhl at any time about Mr. Giuliani's activities in Ukraine?

A  No, I've never met him.

MR. MITCHELL: Chairman, do you have any?

THE CHAIRMAN: I do. How much time do we have left?

MR. STOSZ: Four minutes.

THE CHAIRMAN: Four minutes.

Were you aware of whether Victoria Toensing or Joseph diGenova played any role in assisting Mr. Giuliani with getting Ukraine to conduct these two political investigations?


THE CHAIRMAN: You mentioned that there was a rumor that the President may have joined, by phone, a meeting between Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Lutsenko. What was the time of that meeting?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: That was the January 2018 meeting.

THE CHAIRMAN: And where did you hear this particular rumor from?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: From Mr. Yenin. And I didn't hear it directly. I heard it through Joseph Pennington, the Charge at the time. The --- I'm sorry, could you repeat the question?

THE CHAIRMAN: You were telling me where you had heard that rumor from.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Oh, Mr. Yenin, the deputy -- well, he was one of the deputy prosecutors to Mr. Lutsenko and he handled international affairs.

THE CHAIRMAN: So this came from the Ukrainians, this information or rumor that the President may have joined this meeting by phone?


THE CHAIRMAN: Did you hear that from anyone else?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: No, I don't think so.

THE CHAIRMAN: Did he tell you where he had heard that from?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Again, I didn't have the conversation, but I -- my understanding was he was either -- that he had heard it from Mr. Lutsenko.

THE CHAIRMAN: So you're saying was that Mr. Lutsenko had told him that the President had phoned into their meeting?


THE CHAIRMAN: Is that a yes?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: That's a yes.

THE CHAIRMAN: While you were Ambassador to Ukraine, did you ever raise any concerns with the State Department about Giuliani's activities in Ukraine?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Well, you know, there was a series of conversations, as we learned more and more. And I don't know if that constitutes raising concerns. I would say it does constitute raising concerns, but it's not like I sent in a formal cable outlining everything. It felt very -- very sensitive and very political.

THE CHAIRMAN: And who did you express those concerns with?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: The European Bureau.

THE CHAIRMAN: And who in particular?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: George Kent; Phil Reeker, when he came on board.

THE CHAIRMAN: And what was their response when you raised the concerns that Giuliani was involved in activities that may be at odds with U.S. policy?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Well, they were concerned too.

THE CHAIRMAN: And how did they express their concerns to you?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I mean, I don't really know how to answer that question. I mean, it was -- it was kind of a what are you hearing, what do you think is happening? You know, it was that kind of a conversation.

THE CHAIRMAN: And one last question before I yield to the minority. Did anyone at the State Department try to stop those efforts?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I don’t think so. I don't think they felt they could.

THE CHAIRMAN: Do you want to take a break before we --

MR. ROBBINS: Yes. I wonder if I can inquire how much longer we're going tonight?

THE CHAIRMAN: Let me ask the minority, do you expect you'll use the entire 45 minutes? Okay. We have a few more questions I think on our side. So would you like to take a break?

MR. ROBBINS: Well, among other things, I've got to plan a trip back to New York. So are we going past 7 o'clock tonight?

THE CHAIRMAN: Yeah. I think we are, yeah. All right, let's take a 10-minute break.


THE CHAIRMAN: Okay, let's go back on the record, and the time is with the minority.

MR. CASTOR: Thank you.


Q  Ambassador, once again, we want to you know, restate our appreciation for your participation here today as well as your 30-plus year career. We value your service and we thank you for it.

The fact that we're asking questions here today and some of the questions, you know, may or may not be the questions you'd like to be talking about here today, we're doing our best to try to find the facts, but thank you again for your service, and we have the utmost respect for your career and just wanted to officially say that to you.

A  Thank you.

Q  In your February meeting with Minister Avakov, what specific issues did he say Mr. Giuliani was trying to raise with him?

A  He said that Mr. Giuliani wanted to meet him.

Q  And Avakov was trying to avoid that meeting?

A  Yes.

Q  And did he ever come to learn what Giuliani was trying to impart to him at that meeting?

A  I don't believe he did. I think he assumed it had -- it was related to Mr. Lutsenko's work with Mr. Giuliani, because it was Mr. Lutsenko and Mr. Fruman and Parnas who were trying to persuade Mr. Avakov to meet with Mr. Giuliani.

Q  To your knowledge, was Mr. Avakov, was he anti-Trump?

A  I think he was pro-Avakov.

Q  Okay. He had some -- he had some negative statements in the media about the President. Are you aware of that?

A  No. I mean, maybe I was at the time, but it hasn't -- it didn't register with me.

Q  You didn't especially identify him as an anti-Trump person?

A  I think he is a very pragmatic man.

Q  He asserted on Twitter the President was diagnosed as a dangerous misfit. Did you have any awareness of that?

A  No. When did he do that?

[Exhibit No. 5

was marked for identification.]


Q  This is in a Facebook post. I have a Politico article here. Maybe it's just helpful if I pass it around. I'll mark it as exhibit 5. I got copies. This is a Politico article from January 2017, so this is the beginning of your term. Have you ever seen this article before?

A  I don't know. I mean, I can't read through it, and I'm not sure I would remember from early 2017.

Q  Okay. It just -- it goes through various efforts of Ukrainians that were just trying to sabotage Trump, and Avakov is quoted on page 14: Ukrainian's Minister of Internal Affairs, Arsen Avakov, piled on, trashing Trump on Twitter in July as, quote, "a clown and asserting that Trump is, quote, an even bigger danger to the U.S. than terrorism."

The subsequent paragraph talks about the Facebook post, but does this refresh any of your recollection? Did you realize that he was as hotly anti-Trump as these comments?

A  As I said, I mean, this obviously was before I arrived in Ukraine, and so, I might have seen it at the time. But during -- during my time in Ukraine, I mean, Avakov is a very pragmatic man. He's looking for partnerships. If the President of the United States is Donald Trump, he's going to work with Donald Trump. If it is you, he's going to work with you, and he's going to find partnerships and ways to make that work.

Q  This Politico report talks about somebody by the name of Alexandra Chalupa, if I'm pronouncing that name correctly. Did you ever hear of her before?

A  Yeah.

Q  What do you know about her?

A  Only what is in the press.

Q  Have you ever met her?

A  No, or at least to the best of my knowledge, I haven’t met her, because, I mean, press also reported that she worked at the Ukrainian Embassy. So I've been obviously to the Ukrainian Embassy here, and I may have met her at an event or something.

Q  Do you know about any efforts that she undertook to work with the Ukrainian Embassy to further negative information about the now-President Trump?

A  All I know is what I've read in the media.

Q  Has Chalupa ever come up at the embassy in your discussions at post?

A  No, I don't think so.

Q  On page 13 of this report, it talks about the Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S., Chaly, publishing an op-ed chastising the President. Does that ring any bells? Do you have any familiarity with that?

A  Where does it say that?

Q  It's on page 13 of 18.

A  Uh-huh.

Q  The bottom paragraph: The Ambassador Chaly penned an op-ed for The Hill in which he chastised Trump for a confusing series of statements?

A  Yeah, I do remember the op-ed.

Q  Okay. What do you know about Ambassador Chaly's perspective on President Trump?

A  Well, I think my recollection of the op-ed was that he was concerned about some statements that candidate Trump at the time had made with regard to, you know, whether Crimea was Russian or Ukrainian. And so, I think that was the reason for the op-ed. I mean, obviously, this is a very sensitive issue for the Ukrainians.

Q  The story goes on to just talk about how the Ukrainian officials were, in fact, supporting Hillary Clinton, not President Trump. Is that a fair assessment of Ukrainian officials at the time, during the 2016 period leading up to the election?

A  I mean, when you say supporting Hillary Clinton, I mean, I've read these articles, but, you know, I'm not sure that -- I mean, I can't judge the validity of what was happening here in the United States.

Q  Fair enough. We spoke couple different times about the communication you had with George Kent.

A  Uh-huh.

Q  And I thought it might be helpful to just go through the whole episode again from beginning to end, where you could just tell us exactly what happened, where it happened, anything you remember about that communication?

A  I don't think I have anything to add to what I've told you previously.

Q  So I guess we're asking you to just recount it again, because it came up during the questioning of a couple different Members and at a couple different times, and we're just trying to get a full accounting of it, if we may.

THE CHAIRMAN: Can I just suggest, because it's getting late, that she has talked about this quite a lot. If you have a specific question, I think, rather than having her repeat everything she's already said.

MR. MEADOWS: Mr. Chairman, with all due respect, we don't tell you how to ask questions and we haven't all day. And I don't think when it's the minority's time, it is appropriate, Mr. Chairman, to instruct us on how to ask questions.

THE CHAIRMAN: I'm making a recommendation to my colleague. He can follow it or not follow it. And the witness can say she's already answered the question if she wishes or she can go through it all over again, but in the interest of time -- it's been a long day for the Ambassador -- I'm recommending that we not simply retread ground we've already covered.

MR. JORDAN: Ambassador, what specifically did Mr. Kent tell you about the phone call between President Zelensky and President Trump?

MR. ROBBINS: I think we've covered this and I'll instruct the witness not to answer it yet another time.

MR. MEADOWS: Your objection, Counselor, is based on what? I mean, I'm just telling you, based on the transcripts that we have to date, it is unclear exactly what the full scope of her testimony is.

And so, I would suggest that there's been a lot of redundant questions here by the majority, and if you will just allow us to clarify, we want to make sure that we don't have the ambassador's words tangled up with our understanding.

MR. ROBBINS: Yeah. I don't accept the premise that -- I'm sorry, I wasn't quite finished. I don't accept the premise that the witness needs to clarify anything. I don't accept the premise that there have been lots of redundant questions.

And the predicate of the question that was pending is, I know you've said this several times, but just so I can hear it one more time. That sounds like a question that lawyers call -- I'm not done.

MR. MEADOWS: Well, I'm not done either. We can ask it in a different way, Counselor, if that's what we need to do.

MR. ROBBINS: All right. Well, I've stated my objection and the objection is pending, and I'll let the chairman rule as he wishes.

MR. JORDAN: Ambassador, when I asked you the question earlier, you said he did not talk to you about the fact that you were mentioned in the call. So we know that wasn't what happened. And all we’re asking is -- we know that wasn't discussed. So all we're asking is, what was specifically discussed?

If it wasn't -- I think many people would think the first thing he would tell you is, Hey, there was a call between President Trump and President Zelensky, and you were mentioned in the call. That would seem to me to be the most obvious thing. But you told me directly a couple hours ago that that was not the case. He did not tell you that you were mentioned in the call. So all we're asking is, what did he say specifically about the call?

MR. ROBBINS: You can answer it one more time and that's it.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: The reason I was so emphatic about the fact that he didn't say that, that I was featured in this phone call, is that I would have remembered that. I mean, I can tell you that for sure. So --

MR. JORDAN: And if he knew that, Ambassador, you would have thought Mr. Kent would have probably told you that first thing, right?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I think he would have told me.

MR. JORDAN: Okay. So all we're asking is, he made a point to talk to you about the call, but he didn't tell you the most obvious thing. Maybe he didn't know that, I don't know. So what did he tell you?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: So, you know, he -- this was a relatively short conversation. He said that the two Presidents had spoken. I said, good, because, you know, that's the sort of thing you always want, right, to strengthen a bilateral relationship, that kind of leadership engagement.

And what I recall him saying is that Trump had -- President Trump had asked for -- you know, for some assistance on the investigations, and that President Zelensky had said that, you know, all of the concerns that President Trump had, that happened, you know, in the previous administration and this was a new team and that he was going to be having his own prosecutor general. That's what I recall of the conversation.

MR. JORDAN: Okay, thank you.

MR. CASTOR: Mr. Perry had some questions.

MR. PERRY: Thank you.

Ambassador Yovanovitch, I want to talk to you a little bit about social media activities. During your tenure in Ukraine, did your -- you talked about this a little bit, but I'm -- did your staff monitor social media accounts unrelated to visa applications? And I know you said you didn't get into the nuts and bolts of it, but --

MR. ROBBINS: May I just ask -- she'll answer the question. I just want to understand what the Member means by the word "monitor," because there have been some stories floating around the internet suggesting all kinds of surreptitious monitoring, and that word can --

MR. PERRY: I'm not going to use "surreptitious."

MR. ROBBINS: I understand, but the word connotes a number of different kinds of things, and I just want to be sure that the record is clear as to what the Member means when he uses the word "monitor."

MR. PERRY: Well, I would ask the ambassador to let us know what the scope of their monitoring was, but to me it would mean that you check on a regular basis the accounts and the activities of certain individuals that you're interested in.

MR. ROBBINS: That's fair enough. Please.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yeah. I think -- I mean, that's what our press section did on issues that were of, you know, interest to the Ukraine-U.S. relationship, to other related issues. Obviously, when this whole set of issues came up, we were also following that.

I don't know exactly -- you know, discuss what the word "monitor" is and so forth. I don't know exactly how they -- how the press team did it, but I think they -- they knew who was most active, for example, on issues of, say, NATO membership, or IMF issues, et cetera, that would have been of interest. And I think over time, these things, you know, who we would follow -- I think that's the word we use -- might change over time, because an issue becomes less interesting over time for whatever reason.

MR. PERRY: Okay, let me ask you this: Who in the press office that would do this following or monitoring should we be interested in talking to, you know, to find out the scope? Is there a person that we can address that to, these questions?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Well, I guess I would say, you know, the head of the section.

MR. PERRY: You don't know the name?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I'm sorry, I'm getting tired, but I will remember by the end of this.

MR. PERRY: Do you know how they selected the specific people -- and I think you just said, but I want to clarify -based on the subject they might be covering, whether it was the IMF or -- is that how they selected the individuals?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yeah. So we have -- you know, the press section is obviously very integrated into the rest of the work of the embassy. So they know what is of interest to us, you know, whether it's somebody in the econ section, the defense attache, somebody else. And so, they will, you know -- is it FOX News that's covering them most? Is it the New York Times? And so, they will -- you know, again, the term I know is "follow," but I don't precisely know what that means. They will follow those accounts, whether it's Facebook, whether it's Twitter or whatever.

MR. PERRY: Okay. So would that include following Americans?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yeah. I mean, many of -- you know, New York Times, FOX.

[6:47 p.m.]

MR. PERRY: Let me -- I'm going to give you a list of names, and you can just say yes or no, if you know.

Did your staff request assistance from any D.C. bureau to monitor or follow the social media account of Jack Prezobiak (ph)?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I don't know.

MR. PERRY: Donald Trump, Jr.?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I'm not into that level of detail in terms of --

MR. PERRY: I'm just going to, if you don't mind, I'm going to ask you a list of names. You can say, I don't know, no, yes, but I want to go through the list of names.

So you said, "I don't know" to Donald Trump, Jr., right?


MR. PERRY: Laura Ingraham.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I don't know.

MR. PERRY: Sean Hannity.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I don't know.

MR. PERRY: Michael McFaul.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I don't know.

MR. PERRY: Dan Bongino.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I don't know.

MR. PERRY: Ryan Sevettera (ph).

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I don't know.

MR. PERRY: Rudy Giuliani.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Don't know.

MR. PERRY: Sebastian Gorka.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Don't know.

MR. PERRY: John Solomon. I'm getting to the end.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Okay. Don't know.

MR. PERRY: Lou Dobbs.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: No, I don't know.

MR. PERRY: Pam Gellar.


MR. PERRY: Pam Gellar.


MR. PERRY: Sara Carter.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: No. I mean, I don't know.

MR. PERRY: Okay. Do you know if -- or did you promote the use of any following --

MS. YOVANOVITCH: And can I -- excuse me, sir.

MR. PERRY: Yes, ma'am.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Can I just say that just because I don't know doesn't mean that a request wasn't made. There's, you know, lots of people doing this --

MR. PERRY: And I understand that. We're just trying to -- just trying to establish who knew what at what level and so on and so forth so we have a full view of what was happening and why it was happening. It's not meant to be intrusive or invasive or derogatory or anything like that. We're just -- and like I said, that's why I asked, too, if not you, who would know this information, because we're going to have to find out.

Do you know if you promoted the use of the following search terms intersecting with the above people: Yovanovitch, Ukraine ambassador, Ukraine Soros, or Ukraine Biden?

And I'm just going to -- well, I'm going to let you answer. Do you know if that was included in the mechanics of the search intersection?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: No, I don't know.

MR. PERRY: Okay. Can you just explain how any of this following or searching would be related to your official duties as ambassador?

MR. ROBBINS: That, of course, assumes that any of that happened.

MR. PERRY: Okay.

MR. ROBBINS: Right? So we don't know that and neither does she. She already told you that, right?

MR. PERRY: Well, she's told me she didn't know.

MR. ROBBINS: Right. So how is she going to possibly know the answer to that question?

MR. PERRY: I'm not going to put any words in her mouth or thoughts in her mind. I'm just asking the question, sir.

All right. Did you discuss any of this activity with George Kent?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I don't know how to answer that question, because I wasn't involved in requesting, you know, these kinds of --

MR. PERRY: Well, it seems to me if -- you either weren't involved or it wasn't happening, or if it was happening and you didn't know, then there would be no reason for you to discuss it, but so --

MS. YOVANOVITCH: So let me just go back to your previous conversation, where I did -- you know, when my staff -- because you put this in the context of the embassy requesting help --

MR. PERRY: Right.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: -- from Washington. So when that help -- and I don't know whether this is exactly what they were requesting or whether it was something else or in addition to, but when they didn't get the support they felt they needed --

MR. PERRY: The assistance.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: -- I -- you know, they told me. And so I talked to George about that. But that level of detail and whether that is exactly the same thing, I cannot --

MR. PERRY: Okay. Fair enough. But you did ask main State Department resources be made available on a 24/7 basis for following or monitoring?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I don't recall putting it quite like that. The conversations we --

MR. PERRY: How would you put it?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Well, what we were saying is because of the 7-hour time difference, that they could pick up when we went home type thing.

MR. PERRY: Okay. Let me ask you a couple other questions that are unrelated to the social monitoring or following.

Did you or anyone on your staff request unmasking of any individuals?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Is that a technical term?

MR. PERRY: Unmasking. You're not familiar?


MR. PERRY: Okay. Is there a better way to describe that?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: What does it mean?

MR. PERRY: If someone is -- their identity is unknown, you can make a -- and their -- and that identity is involved in official classified conversations, then there can be a request be made to see who that individual is, because they won't be listed by name in the description, it will be listed a different way, and so you can ask.

MR. BITAR: I'm sorry. One administrative matter. This is an unclassified briefing, so I just want to make that clear. If your question relates to unmasking of intelligence-related products or reports, that's going to be a separate matter that we --

MR. PERRY: Okay. I'm asking about unmasking of any kind, so not necessarily related to --

MR. MEADOWS: But it could include that.

MR. PERRY: It could include that.

MR. MEADOWS: And that wouldn't be classified.

THE CHAIRMAN: I don't think there is such a term of art apart from intelligence products, so --

MR. MEADOWS: Yeah, but we're not asking who, Mr. Chairman. We're just asking if the request was made, and so I don't know how that would be classified. It appears that she doesn't know anything about that, but the very fact that she asked is not classified unless we're talking about whom she asked to have unmasked.

THE CHAIRMAN: Well, I think she said she's not even familiar with that term.

MR. MEADOWS: Well, let her answer. But, I mean --

THE CHAIRMAN: As long as it doesn't involve anything in the classified realm, you certainly may answer if you know.


MR. MEADOWS: You can answer. He's got to run.

MR. PERRY: I'll be back.


MR. PERRY: Sorry. Thank you.

MR. MEADOWS: It's nothing you said.

MR. CASTOR: Welcome to Congress.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: So I got lost a little bit in the conversation. Are we talking about --

MR. GOLDMAN: Let's ask him to repeat it. Oh.

MR. MEADOWS: You can ask the pecans.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Would you mind repeating the question? Or -- we can't. Okay. So--

MR. MEADOWS: So I think the gentleman from Pennsylvania was talking about in general terms as it relates to monitoring, was there any -- let me phrase it this way.

Was there any special request to look at potential conversations that may not be normally monitored through open source methods? How about that?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: So it sounds --

MR. MEADOWS: Is that qualified enough?

THE CHAIRMAN: If you're just talking about what is the press section following in terms of what newspapers and what columns, whatever, I don't really think that's generally described as monitoring, but the witness can certainly answer to the best of her ability.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: So, you know, the press section just by its very name, it’s all unclassified stuff, right? And all the press section did was look at, you know, what does The New York Times publish, The Wall Street Journal publish about Ukraine or U.S. bilateral relations with Ukraine, that sort of thing.

And now with the advent of social media, obviously there are many other kinds of outlets that are reviewed for, you know, what's out there in the news, what do we know, what do we need to take action on, et cetera.

MR. MEADOWS: But in the nonclassified realm. Is that what you're saying?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: It's all unclassified. It's press, yes. It's press review.

MR. MEADOWS: Right. So let me follow up, then, on one thing. This extraordinary activity that you asked the State Department to do, the 24/7, or however you want to classify it, when did that happen?

MR. ROBBINS: Okay. So I want to object to the insertion of the word "extraordinary" as if it's something not routine in some respect.

MR. MEADOWS: Well, the additional request -- I'll rephrase it, counselor -- the additional request that she made of the State Department to provide additional resources to monitor social media of certain individuals, when was that made?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I'm not sure. At some --

MR. MEADOWS: Was it made after the Hill article that --

MS. YOVANOVITCH: At some point after that, yes.

MR. MEADOWS: So was it directly related to the negative publicity that you were getting this request?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: It was related to the news blowing up around us.

MR. MEADOWS: Yeah. It seemed to relate all to the negative stories about you and the request for additional resources, is what it appeared. So you're saying the timing came after the Hill article?


MR. MEADOWS: All right. I'll yield back.

MR. ZELDIN: I have one quick question, hopefully.

Earlier on, answering questions from the majority with regards to the July 25th call, you testified that it is your belief that President Trump was referring to Lutsenko. Do you know, in fact, he was referring to Lutsenko and not Shokin on that phone call?



Q  Hello again. Our round ends at 7:11, in case you're looking at the clock.

Is it fair to say -- it's been related to us that at all times U.S. officials involved in this matter have acted with the highest degree of personal and professional integrity and with the best interests of the United States. Is that something you can --

A  Which matter?

Q  The matter we're here discussing, about the, you know, the call and the subsequent activities.

A  So the July 25th call?

Q  Uh-huh.

A  Um --

Q  And the relationship with Zelensky and the various, you know, efforts to, you know, bring him in for a White House meeting, some of the back and forth that there has been with the statement that occurred after you left.

THE CHAIRMAN: So clarification, counsel. Are you asking the witness if --

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yeah. I’m not --

THE CHAIRMAN: -- she thinks that what took place on the call was appropriate?

MR. CASTOR: Subsequent to the call.

THE CHAIRMAN: Subsequent to the call? I'm not sure what you're asking, and I'm not sure the witness understands what you're asking, either.

MR. CASTOR: You know, Ambassador Volker testified about the difficulties that Rudy Giuliani presented, you know, in U.S.-Ukrainian relations, but he was very clear that at all times, he told us, U.S. officials acted with the highest degree of personal and professional integrity.

Is that something that you would agree with, based on the facts that you have at your disposal?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I would say two things. In my dealings with -- in my dealings with Kurt Volker, and we are friends as well as colleagues, over the last 30-something years, I have -- I consider him to be a man of honor and somebody who's a brilliant diplomat. And, you know, I think he is working in the interests of our country.

With regard to the specific question that you are asking, I just -- you know, I wasn't there. I don't have the knowledge to be able to address it properly.

MR. CASTOR: But you think the individuals at the --

[Discussion off the record.]


Q  Ambassador Volker mentioned the fact that to the extent there are corrupt Ukrainians and the United States is advocating for the Ukraine to investigate themselves, that certainly would be an appropriate initiative for U.S. officials to advocate for. Is that right?

A  If that's what took place.

Q  Have you ever used WhatsApp?

A  Yes.

Q  Is that a texting app? Is that something that's used by diplomats to communicate with -- back and forth across the overseas communications?

A  I mean, it's used by lots of people.

Q  Okay. So you don't attach a negative connotation to anybody that uses WhatsApp?

A  No.

Q  That's a legitimate app to use?

A  So do you want to be more specific in your question?

Q  Well, the Federal Records Act -- in compliance with the Federal Records Act, you know, texting over WhatsApp presents some unique issues for those that are, you know, concerned about -- from a Federal Records Act perspective.

A  In terms of retention of documents?

Q  Yes.

A  Well, we were told that we needed to -- and forgive me, you know, I don't know all the technical terms -- but that we needed to kind of upload our texts to the cloud. And I got a special, I don't know what the right word is, but it was somehow done for me.

So, you know, my belief is based on, you know, the conversations when this first came out, that we needed to retain our texts, I mean, I think that that was being done for me and my texts are somewhere safe.

Q  So assuming people are keeping their texts, the use of WhatsApp is completely appropriate, as far as you know?

A  Yeah. That's what the State Department told us. I mean, if I could just clarify, assuming it's not confidential or classified.

MR. CASTOR: Mr. Jordan, are you ready?


Q  On Monday, we're going to be hearing from Fiona Hill.

A  On Monday?

Q  Uh-huh. And I just -- as we try to prepare for that interview, what do you think are the types of issues Dr. Hill can contribute to this discussion?

A  Well, she is -- she was the director, obviously, as you know, of the National Security Council, the European division at the -- and she is a well known expert not only in the region, but on Russia itself, and has written a landmark book on President Putin.

So she would obviously have a lot of firsthand knowledge about our relations and what took place with regard to Russia, with regard to Ukraine, and other European countries.

Q  How frequently did you speak with her in your --

A  Not that -- not that often.

Q  Not that often?

A  Yeah. I mean, you know, I would call on her when I was in Washington. You know, she would run some of the NSC meetings. And sometimes she was on emails as well, you know, in the back and forth with Washington.

Q  Now, do you have any personal knowledge or direct information regarding why the President curtailed your term?

A  Only what Deputy Secretary of State Sullivan told me.

Q  And you don't know if it actually was the President, then, that was responsible for curtailing your tour?

A  Well, I guess I assumed that the deputy secretary was telling the truth.

MR. CASTOR: That’s all I have. Does anybody --

MR. MEADOWS: Yeah. Just one.

There was a bicameral, bipartisan codel to the Ukraine, I think, where they had the honor of your presence. And the way it was characterized by some of my colleagues was that they believed that you had a pro-Poroshenko mindset. Would you agree with that characterization or disagree with it?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Well, that's really interesting.

I thought that he was -- we could obviously continue to work with him, but it was clear that he was unpopular, and we did not believe at that time that he was going to be reelected president.

What I would also say, though, is that with regard to Zelensky, who was the other top candidate there, we didn't know what kind of a President he was going to be. He'd never held elective office. So, you know, there was a big question mark there. You know, he's very engaging, he, you know, said many of the right things, but we just didn't know.

MR. MEADOWS: The way it was characterized to me -- and you correct this, because, obviously, I'm just trying to figure out how accurate that is -- the way it was characterized to me was that you believed that the United States had made a substantial investment in the existing President, and that it was a known quantity, and that it was in the U.S. best interests if he were to remain as President, because of the unknown nature of Mr. Zelensky.

Would you agree with that?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Not -- no. Not --

MR. MEADOWS: What part would you disagree with?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I -- I thought that over time -- in the beginning, President Poroshenko was, as everybody was, was really driven by the inspiration of the Revolution of Dignity. And they moved on reforms and so forth in part because they were inspired, in part because their backs were up against the wall, there's this war with Russia, they were going bankrupt, and we were conditioning our assistance that they had to do certain things in order to receive the money that they needed to keep the country afloat.

So they were desperate, they were scared that if they didn't take action people would turn against them again, and I think they were inspired. So there were many, many motivations.

But as time passed and the country, you know, got a little bit of breathing space, they weren't, you know, fearing that they were going to go bankrupt, things were getting a little bit better, I think that space which, you know, in any country is never, you know, forever, the space for making reform, the kinds of things that we thought were best for Ukraine and our bilateral relationship with Ukraine and the reforms the Ukrainian people wanted, that space got narrower and it was harder to move things forward.

MR. MEADOWS: So it would be fair to say that my colleagues were wrong, in that you were more in the pro-Zelensky camp?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Well, I would never want to say that a Member of Congress is wrong, but --

MR. MEADOWS: I can, but go ahead.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: But I -- you know, it's interesting to see how --

MR. MEADOWS: So you were more pro-Zelensky?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I was more, you know, here is the analysis. We don't get to vote in this election.

MR. MEADOWS: Yeah, but you have an opinion, Ambassador. Come on. You've been here 30 years. You get paid to give your opinion from a foreign ops standpoint.

So you had no opinion on who the President -- what would be in the best interests of the United States, which President would be the best fit for us going forward? You had no opinion?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: So I'll answer it with two sentences.

I thought we could work with any of the top three candidates. I think I said that before, and I continue to believe that.

I thought that Poroshenko's time was up, because the Ukrainian people were so angry with him, and that we needed to make the best efforts we could to work with Zelensky so that it would be a strong bilateral relationship.

MR. MEADOWS: So let me finish with this last question, then. So there was never a communication from you to anyone else in the State Department that you can recall where you said it would -- where you indicated that it was not better for the United States that Poroshenko would stay in office? You never communicated that to anybody at the State Department?


MR. MEADOWS: That you can recall.


MR. MEADOWS: Well, prior to his election.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I mean, there were -- there was a lot of discussion. Who are these people? What would be the best for Ukraine? Best for us? How do we move the relationship forward? And so forth.

I think, you know, from a conservative point of view, I think there were a number of people who thought that we know Poroshenko, we are comfortable with him, et cetera.

MR. MEADOWS: And that's exactly my point. That's what my colleagues were saying.

So was that the prevailing thought that you had and others had, so --

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I don't think from the embassy point of view, because we could see that his number was up.

And so from our point of view, I mean, one just has to go with what you can see is going to happen and position the United States in the best way possible.

MR. JORDAN. Ambassador, which of the three top candidates were viewed as the reformer and more of the outsider?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I think President Zelensky was viewed as the outsider, but also as the reformer.

MR. JORDAN. That's consistent with what Special Envoy Volker told us, that he was the reformer. And as the reformer, he would be viewed as the one most likely, as you said in your statement, that would be focused on making -- or ending corruption would be his number one priority. Is that fair to say as well?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: That's what he said his platform was.

MR. JORDAN. Okay. So he's the outsider, he's the reformer, and his entire campaign was about ending corruption in Ukraine?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: And bringing piece to the Donbass.

MR. JORDAN. Thank you.

THE CHAIRMAN: We are almost to the end. This is the lightning round. We just have a few more questions.


THE CHAIRMAN: And then hopefully we’ll be done.

My colleagues in the minority asked you quite a bit about the press operation.


THE CHAIRMAN: That's not an operation that's unique to the Ukraine embassy, is it? This is something that almost every embassy of any size around the world would engage in, and that is, monitoring the press to see what issues are Ukrainians talking about, what are other people talking about, what rumors may be going viral, what issues are coming up? That's something every embassy does, is it not?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: It is. And every embassy has to do it to be current.

THE CHAIRMAN: You were also asked by my colleagues whether everyone in the State Department acted in the best interests of the Department, or something along those lines.

We now know from text messages that have been produced that there was an effort to condition that sought-after meeting between President Zelensky and President Trump with getting a deliverable from Ukraine, and that deliverable was: We want Ukraine to investigate the Bidens and we want Ukraine to investigate 2016.


THE CHAIRMAN: I think you've said that it was not in the interests of Ukraine to be pulled into the next Presidential election. Is that right?


THE CHAIRMAN: So an effort to condition a meeting that Ukraine desperately wanted and it was Ukraine's best interests on sucking them into the 2020 election would not have been good policy or conduct by the State Department?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: It was certainly not good policy, especially since, as I understand those texts and what occurred, is that this was not a foreign policy goal, something that is in the interests of all of us, a public good, but it was kind of a partisan game.

THE CHAIRMAN: It was in the interest of a political goal?


THE CHAIRMAN: And that is to help the Presidential campaign in -- I'm sorry. You have to answer "yes" or "no."

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I think -- I think the answer was "yes."

THE CHAIRMAN: And the goal was a political one to assist the President's campaign in 2020 through these two investigations?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: That's how I understand, you know, what is in the media and what was in the texts.

THE CHAIRMAN: And if it would not be appropriate to condition a sought-after meeting with the White House on these political investigations, I assume you would also -you would also share the view that it would be even more damaging to condition vital military support on these two political investigations?


THE CHAIRMAN: I have just a couple more questions, and if these repeat anything, I apologize, so just tell me I already went there and I won’t bother it.

Were you aware that Kurt Volker introduced Andrey Yermak, one of President Zelensky's senior advisers, to Mr. Giuliani?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I'm aware of that because of the media reports of that.

THE CHAIRMAN: But that took place after you had left?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: After I departed.

THE CHAIRMAN: Okay. In the call record, the President, after President Zelensky talks about the need for more Javelins, our President says that he would like to ask a favor, though.

How would the President of Ukraine take a request from a U.S. President for a favor?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I think, as we stated before, or as we discussed before, we are the single most important partner for Ukraine. And so I think a Ukrainian President would try, if at all possible, to do whatever an American President requested.

THE CHAIRMAN: Did anyone from the Trump administration or anyone acting on its behalf encourage the Ukrainian government or law enforcement officials not to cooperate with the investigation of Special Counsel Mueller?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Not to my knowledge. I'm not aware of that.

THE CHAIRMAN: And do you know whether Mr. Giuliani played any role in that?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I’m unaware.

THE CHAIRMAN: After President Zelensky in the call record says, "The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news and the people she was dealing with in Ukraine were bad news, so I just wanted to let you know that" -- I'm sorry, that's President Trump speaking -- the President thereafter, referring to you, says, "Well, she is going to go through some things."


THE CHAIRMAN: What did you -- what was your reaction when you saw the President had said that to his Ukrainian counterpart, that you were going to go through some things?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I was shocked. I was shocked and I was -- I was shocked and I was apprehensive about what that meant.

THE CHAIRMAN: Mr. Malinowski.

MR. MALINOWSKI: Thank you. Just one question.

You mentioned, Ambassador, that Ambassador Sondland at one point had advised you to, quote, "go big or go home," and "go big" meant putting out a tweet or public statement saying that, I think you mentioned, that you supported President Trump and rejected all of these false accusations. Did he --

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Something like that.

MR. MALINOWSKI: Did he actually say, "support President Trump"? Was that his advice, that you publicly say something to that effect?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yes. I mean, he may not have used the words "support President Trump," but he said: You know the President. Well, maybe you don't know him personally, but you know, you know, the sorts of things that he likes. You know, go out there battling aggressively and, you know, praise him or support him.

MR. MALINOWSKI: Is that a normal request from a political appointee to a career ambassador, in your experience?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: He said that in response to my request for advice on, How do I deal with this? I've never seen anything like this. I don't know what to do. And that was his response.

So, I mean, I have to admit that the advice took me aback, but I did ask him.


Finally, I would say to all of my colleagues on both sides that I would be honored if you followed me on Twitter, and I will not accuse you of monitoring me. My handle is @malinowski.

MR. MEADOWS: How do you spell that one?

MR. MALINOWSKI: It's hard. Almost as hard as Yovanovitch.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Exactly. Thank you.

THE CHAIRMAN: Mr. Goldman.

MR. GOLDMAN: Thank you. Just a few last things. You ultimately --

THE CHAIRMAN: I thought your handle was @pecan.


Q  You left Ukraine for good May 20th. Is that right?

A  That's correct.

Q  And that was the day of Zelensky's inauguration?

A  Coincidentally, yes.

Q  Were you aware at all of the formation of the U.S. delegation to the inauguration in Ukraine?

A  Not really. I mean, I was, you know, so busy, frankly, packing out and everything. I had heard that Ambassador Sondland was on the delegation, for example. But, I mean, I wasn't following. I mean, I was super busy trying to sort of pull everything together and leave Ukraine.

Q  So you were not really engaged in the prep for the inauguration --

A  No.

Q  -- in any way?

A  Huh-uh.

Q  Who led that?

A  I think -- yeah. I think at that time, Joseph Pennington was charge.

Q  Were you aware of a Bloomberg article on May 14th, so it would have been 6 days before you left, where Lutsenko stated that he had, quote, no evidence of wrongdoing, unquote, by either of the Bidens?

A  Yes. I recall that.

Q  You mentioned earlier Naftogaz.

A  Yes.

Q  What is Naftogaz?

A  It is the gas monopoly that is owned by the Government of Ukraine.

Q  Has it had some corruption issues in the past, to your knowledge?

A  It has. You know, it's really cleaned up its act. I mean, we consider it to be one of the success stories in Ukraine. But that doesn't mean it's done. I mean, there's still issues going forward.

Q  Did the act cleaning up occur in conjunction with the fact that they added a supervisory board to the company?

A  I think that was important. I think the most important thing, though, was actually the head of Naftogaz, a guy by the name of Andrei Kobalyev, who is, you know, as clean as they come, and was fearless and determined to sort of shake everything up and really made some amazing steps forward, I mean, from a country that was getting the vast majority, something like 93 percent, of its gas from Russia to importing zero from Russia.

So, I mean, if you think about that from a security standpoint, huge steps forward.

Q  Right. Do you know when they added a supervisory board?

A  I want to say, like, 2017.

Q  And would that be somewhat similar to Burisma's board that we were talking about earlier, same concept?

A  Well, I don't exactly know what the, you know, the duties of the board for Burisma are or how they select their members, et cetera. But I suppose in principle it's kind of similar.

Q  In principle in the sense that both boards include international individuals, right, non-Ukrainians? Is that your understanding?

A  Yeah. Yeah. And I assume that both boards, you know, do traditionally what boards do, set direction and so forth.

Q  Are you aware of any efforts this past year by Secretary Rick Perry of the Department of Energy to change some of the members on the Naftogaz board?

A  I read about that in the media.

Q  But were you aware of that while you were at post?

A  No. This happened after -- according to the media, this was happening after I left.

Q  And you didn't hear from any of your Department of State colleagues about this?

A  No.

Q  Did you ever hear about a March 2019 meeting in Houston between Parnas, Fruman, and a senior Naftogaz executive, Andrei Favorov?

A  Yeah. That was in the open letter that I referenced many hours ago.

Q  The Dale Perry open letter?

A  That's right. That's where I heard of that.

Q  And what did you understand occurred in that Houston meeting?

A  Well, you know, all I understood was what was -what was said in that article. I have no way -- or open letter -- I have no way of knowing whether it's true or not, but that Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman wanted Mr. Favorov to take over and become the head of Naftogaz.

Q  Why?

A  I don't know, but I assume that they thought that that would be in their best interests.

Q  Did you ask anyone at your embassy to follow up on this Dale Perry open letter, look into this?

A  This was at the -- I want to say it was at the end of April, and I had a lot of other things going on then.

Q  Okay. There's a new prosecutor general now, correct?

A  Yes.

Q  It’s absolutely no chance I'm going to be able to pronounce the name. So am I correct that he was appointed August 29th?

A  That sounds right.

Q  Okay. Are you familiar with him from before his appointment?

A  I've met him a couple of times.

Q  What do you know of him by reputation or otherwise?

A  By reputation, I think we think that he's clean and he's a reformer. He spent the last couple of years -- the reason I don't really know him well or better is that he -his wife has a job somewhere in Europe. And so he was living in Europe but came back to help President Zelensky with his campaign, and so I met him in that context.

Q  And could you just say his name for the record and spell it, if you could?

A  Is it Ryboshapka?

Q  Sounds right. I'm not going to debate you.

A  Spell it? R-y-a-b -- no. Sorry. Yeah.

Q  Yeah. I think they have --

A  So this is what I would do R-y-b-o-s-h-a-p-k-a.

Q  Okay. And you'll recall I that July 25th call between President Trump and Zelensky that President Zelensky said that the next prosecutor general was 100 percent going to be his guy. Is this person 100 percent his guy, as far as you know?

A  Well, he came back from Europe to help him run the election campaign and now he's in the administration. I mean, when he was on the campaign he was saying that he was going to go back to Europe, but evidently not.

Q  Okay. Two more questions.

Are you aware of whether any other U.S. officials pressed any Ukrainian officials to investigate Joe Biden or the 2016 election, perhaps outside of the State Department?

A  No.

Q  And my last question for you is that you testified in response to some of Mr. Malinowski's questions about sort of parallel policies in Ukraine. One was the official U.S. policy of the State Department that you were promoting and one was the shadow Giuliani-Trump policy.

Now, looking back with the benefit of hindsight, can you describe how these two policies were proceeding on parallel tracks and what the impact was? Can you kind of summarize for us?

A  Well, I mean, for one thing, it was -- although we really tried to keep our eye on the ball at the embassy, because, again, it was a challenging time, there was an election campaign, an election for president, and we needed to know what was happening and we needed to manage that and manage the relationship and whatever the future of the relationship would be. So it was distracting in many ways.

But the other thing is, because there were -- there was, you know, the press interview and then all of the other subsequent articles, social media postings, et cetera, Ukrainians were wondering whether I was going to be leaving, whether we really represented the President, U.S. policy, et cetera. And so I think it was -- you know, it really kind of cut the ground out from underneath us.

MR. GOLDMAN: I yield back.

MR. MEADOWS: Mr. Chairman, before you close it out, I think we had 4 minutes left, and I want to follow up on one thing that you had --


MR. ZELDIN: We had more than 4 minutes.

MR. MEADOWS: Okay. Okay.


MR. MEADOWS: All right. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Ambassador, there's been, and Chairman Schiff kind of alluded to this, and when we start talking about Javelins and foreign aid, for the record, I want to make sure that we're clear. The foreign aid that was -- has been reported as being held up, it doesn't relate to Javelins, does it?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: No. At least I'm not aware that it does.

MR. MEADOWS: Because foreign military sales, or FMS, as you would call it, is really a totally separate track, is it not? Foreign military sales get approved, but they're actually a purchase that happens with, in this case, it would have been Ukraine. Is that correct?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: So, yes. President Zelensky was talking about a purchase. But separately, as I understand it, and, again, this is from news accounts, the security assistance that was being held up was security assistance, it wasn't the FMS.

MR. MEADOWS: But it was actually aid that had been appropriated and it had nothing to do with Javelins. Would you agree with that?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: That's my understanding.

MR. MEADOWS: Yeah. Because it's critically important in his context when he says, "We're almost ready for the Javelins," that happens on cycles that are not necessarily just appropriation cycles.

In your history as a foreign service diplomat, you've seen that, I assume, over and over again. Is that correct?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Yeah. I assumed that what it meant is that, you know, they were getting paperwork together, et cetera, and working with our military colleagues.

MR. MEADOWS: And when the aid ultimately came through, it didn't impact the purchase of those Javelins even when the aid ultimately was approved. Would you agree?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Not to my -- not to my knowledge.


MR. ZELDIN: In response to one of the chairman's questions related to aid from the United States to Ukraine and investigations, you responded that that was not a good policy. What policy were you referring to when you said it was not a good policy?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: So I don't remember exactly what I said, but --

MR. ZELDIN: If you want, I could rephrase the question in a way that might make it easier for you to respond without even reflecting on the question and answer.

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Okay. Please.

MR. ZELDIN: Are you aware of a policy where aid from the United States to Ukraine was linked to investigating the Bidens?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: No, I am not. An official policy. There's no official policy.

MR. ZELDIN: Are you aware of an unofficial policy?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: Well, I mean, reading the texts and so forth, it made me wonder whether there was an unofficial policy.

MR. ZELDIN: Now, Ambassador Volker's testimony when he was here, he was testifying that Bill Taylor's text was as a follow-up to a Politico story that he had read that he was concerned about.

The texts that you reference also include responses to Ambassador Taylor where it says, the President has been absolutely crystal clear there's no quid pro quo.

So with regards to the texts, are you talking about some of the texts or all of the texts in saying that there was an unofficial policy?

MS. YOVANOVITCH: I think that I probably should decline to answer that question, because I was not in the policy world at that point.

MR. ZELDIN: That's a fantastic answer, and I'm glad you're giving that answer, because I wouldn't say that there would be an unofficial policy without having all of your information to be able to say there actually was an unofficial policy.

So I think that -- I would have no further questions based off of that answer to the last question.

THE CHAIRMAN: Ambassador, we want to thank you very much for a very long day, and we want to thank you very much for a very long and distinguished career.

And we are adjourned.


[Whereupon, at 7:31 p.m., the interview was concluded.]